By Nick The RecordLover
Greetings, fellow Beatlemaniacs and Music Lovers,
Tonight’s feature is an album I grew up listening to during the Summer of 1980. It was one of the first Beatles records I owned which showcased “The Early Beatles”.
I remember the Summer of 1980 when my Grandmother and Mother took me to the dentist for a routine checkup. A week or two before, I noticed the LP “The Early Beatles” in Pathmark and was excited to get it after seeing the tracks that were listed on the front cover. I told my Mom that was the next Beatles album I wanted (the first one I owned was “The Beatles 1967-1970” Blue Album compilation). She said she would buy it for me after the dentist visit. It was a gorgeous Summer day and I couldn’t wait to go to Pathmark to pick it up. The price on it was $6.98 (the average price for a record in Sam Goody was around $8.99-$9.99), and I saw it on the record rack just waiting for me to bring it home and give it a listen. It was a reissue on The Capitol Purple Label with the original catalog number ST-2309 and in “Capitol Full Dimensional Stereo”. I always got a kick out of the back cover which had the FDS logo and underneath read, “Also Available In Regular Monophonic”.
“The Early Beatles” was a Capitol Records compilation released in March of 1965 in Mono T-2309 and Stereo ST 2309. Alas, my purple label copy has long been played to shreds, so I’ve spent the last ten years or so looking for an original Mono (See Below) and Stereo (Scroll for photos). The front cover reads “Eleven of their 1964 American Hit Recordings Now on Capitol”. Years later I found out that these tracks were released on an American album titled “Introducing The Beatles” on the short-lived Vee-Jay label in early 1964. Once Vee-Jay folded, Capitol Records jumped on The Beatles bandwagon and compiled this collection although by the Spring of 1965 The Beatles were working on songs that were to be released on the upcoming US compilation “Beatles VI” and both the American and UK copies of the “Help!” soundtrack.
Ah, but let’s go back to that wonderful Summer day of 1980. The minute I brought the record home I spun it on my very humble phonograph/stereo “system” (hey, in 1980 it was pretty state of the art for a 10 year old). Of course I knew “Love Me Do”, but I couldn’t wait to “Twist and Shout”! I remember singing along with John’s raspy vocal, trying to match him word for word and playing air-guitar like he did at The Royal Variety Performance in 1963. I immediately fell in love with the group’s cover versions of Arthur Alexander’s “Anna” and The Cookies’ hit “Chains”. I’ve since heard the originals, but to me they will always be associated with The Beatles. They’re loads of fun to sing along with, as is one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Ask Me Why”. “Ask Me Why” is one of the most beautiful songs John wrote. It’s such an honest, heartfelt composition. Ringo Starr gets his due with a cover of The Shirelles’ “Boys” and he rocks out with the best of ’em (To This day I love when Ringo yells “All Right, George!” before George Harrison wails with his rocking guitar solo). John gives it his best on the second Shirelles cover of “Baby, It’s You” with Paul and George doing the “sha-la-la-la…” backing vocals. “A Taste of Honey” is another fine cover written by Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow and first performed by Billy Dee Williams in the play “A Taste of Honey” in 1961. Lenny Welch would have a big hit with it in 1962 and Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass shot to the top of the charts with their version in 1965. As with all of the cover versions, I will always associate these songs with The Beatles. Theirs were the versions I grew up with and will remember fondly. Let’s not forget the show stopping originals “Please Please Me” with its outstanding harmonica and breathtaking vocals by John, Paul, and George with Ringo giving the song its driving beat, and the lovely John Lennon ballad “Do You Want to Know A Secret?” Always loved the doo-dah-doo backing vocals, and the middle eight verse “I’ve known a secret for a week or two, nobody knows, just we two…”
Now you may ask, which is better: The Mono or the Stereo version? Since the songs were originally meant to be heard in Mono, I would go with the mono mix. However, the Stereo version (“Love Me Do” is still in mono on the stereo version, since “Love Me Do” was never to this day mixed in true stereo) makes me feel I’m seeing The Beatles in concert and experiencing Beatlemania for the first time.
Peace, and Happy Listening!
Nick The Record Lover