Beatles records are collectible for two principal reasons. First, we’re talking about the Beatles, and anything associated with the Fab Four tends to become collectible before too long. Second, though short-lived compared to, say, the Rolling Stones and other acts from the 1960s, the Beatles were extremely prolific, which means there’s a lot of their stuff to collect.
This is especially true with Beatles records, which were released at various times in the U.S. and U.K. under numerous labels. There were dozens of LPs, scores of 45s, and even a healthy smattering of EPs.
The first U.K. Beatles single was "Love Me Do," which was released on October 5, 1962 by Parlophone. It charted at number 17 in England (two years later, it would hit number one when released in the States). The first versions of the 45 had a red label on the disc, with blue, yellow, purple, and red horizontal stripes on the sleeve. This is the version of "Love Me Do" with Ringo Starr on drums. A black-labeled version of the single was released shortly thereafter with Ringo on tambourine and session musician Andy White on drums.
Other U.K. singles that are fun to collect are the songs (four each) from A Hard Day’s Night and Help! As for the last Beatles single to be released in England when the band was still together? That would be "Let It Be" on March 6, 1970.
In the United States, before Capitol Records signed the band just before their 1964 appearance on Ed Sullivan, Vee-Jay Records was responsible for the release of Beatles music on vinyl, including singles. By all accounts, they did a poor job. One famous typo was on the 1963 45 of "Please Please Me," which included an extra "t" in the band’s name on some of the earliest pressings.
Also collectible are the 45s from the early 1990s, which Capitol produced in multiple colors—green, red, pink, blue, yellow, etc.—with the words "For Jukeboxes Only!" on the label. Most rare are the black discs with "Birthday" on one side and "Taxman" on the other; only 25 to 50 of these black 45s were shipped.
Anomalies like these are what make Beatles 45s such a rich area for collectors. According to Beatles record collector Jesse Barron, there were about 16 different label variations of the 1964 Tollie Records release of "Twist and Shout," all within about six months...
A step up in size from the 45 is the EP, which generally held two songs on a side. Twist and Shout from 1963 was the first EP in England, but Long Tall Sally is almost more interesting since it was the first Beatles EP to feature songs not previously recorded on a Beatles LP. One of those songs was "I Call Your Name," which was famously covered by The Mamas & The Papas in 1966.
Magical Mystery Tour was released as a six-song, double EP in the U.K., but when it was marketed in the U.S., Capitol decided to package it as a 11-song LP. In fact, only three Beatles EPs were issued in the United States during the band’s heyday. The first was called Souvenir of Their Visit to America. Despite the clumsy title, this 1964 Vee-Jay disc sold very well since it was released at the height of U.S. Beatlemania.
Vintage vinyl Beatles LPs offer collectors amazing diversity. Not only are there records from multiple countries, there are also records in different formats. That’s because during the 1960s, a painful (to the ears) transition from mono to stereo took place. In many cases, monaural recording sessions were turned into stereo LPs during post-production, with predictably poor results.
For collectors, some of the "pure" mono recordings of that decade are therefore highly prized. These include all of the U.K. Beatles albums released in mono, from the 1963 Parlophone release of Please Please Me to 1969’s Yellow Submarine (the last U.S. mono Beatles LP was Magical Mystery Tour in 1967).
Other LPs of note include the U.S. version of Rubber Soul without the words "The Beatles" on the record’s label. In the case of A Hard Day’s Night from 1964, the first pressings in mono and stereo featured a typo on one of the song titles ("I Cry Instead" rather than "I’ll Cry Instead"). A subsequent pressing by a company called Monarch corrected the mistake but left off the running times for each song on the record’s label. These LPs are more rare than the originals.
Unquestionably the most infamous Beatles LP was Yesterday and Today with its original cover of the smiling lads sitting around in butcher aprons with pieces of meat and dismembered dolls in their laps and on their shoulders. About 750,000 copies of this cover were printed, but response to the handful of covers sent out as advance copies convinced Capitol to immediately recall them. Some were destroyed but most were pasted over with a rather boring group photo of the Beatles sitting on, and in, a steamer trunk.
Most "butcher" covers on the market today are LPs that have had the replacement "trunk" photo peeled off. The most rare examples, of course, are the LPs with the original "butcher" cover in its original shrink wrap. The best of these are the so-called "Livingston Butchers," which are any of the 24 sealed "butcher" covers that former Capitol Records president Alan Livingston stored in a closet for more than 20 years before releasing them for sale in 1987. In all cases, stereo versions are the rarest of the rare.
Finally, a few Beatles LPs appeal to both Beatles collectors and fans of Psych rock. Covers such as 1966’s Revolver and 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band certainly fit that bill, but Magical Mystery Tour is also a link to the world of rock music posters, thanks to its cover by renowned poster artist John Van Hamersveld.
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Recent News: Beatles Records
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Entire record store stock put up for sale on eBayParcel2Go.com, July 30th
Prospective buyers will get some notable collectables among the items, including a number of dartboards which were produced for The Beatles' record label, Apple. At the time of writing, the sale is attracting heavy interest, with an average of 17 views...Read more
In conversation with The Black AngelsThe 405, July 29th
Songs like 'Come Together' and 'Something' that my dad used to play in the car all the time made me want to have it so I think that was the first Beatles record. I bought and then I discovered the rest of the catalogue through that. That was probably...Read more
Crediton record shop goes on sale on eBay for £9000Exeter Express and Echo, July 26th
It also includes merchandise including badges, posters, mugs and t-shirts and even a dart board from The Beatles record company Apple. The shop's stock spans the decades from vinyl from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s right up to 7-inch pressing for...Read more
Devon record shop on eBay for £9000North Devon Journal, July 26th
includes: “Thousands upon thousands of new and used vinyl singles, albums and box sets, CD singles and albums.” It also includes merchandise including badges, posters, mugs and t-shirts and even a dart board from The Beatles record company Apple...Read more
Computer May Know the Beatles Albums Better Than You DoNBCNews.com, July 24th
What You Don't Know About The Beatles' US Debut. SOCIAL. Today in Beatles History (October 16, 1965): The Beatles record "Day Tripper." — The Beatles (@mthebeatless) July 24, 2014. — Devin Coldewey, NBC News. First published July 24th 2014, 2:51 ...Read more
Listen: The Post-Beatles 'Black Album' From Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood'Indie Wire (blog), July 21st
If you've never delved in very deep with Beatles solo albums and wished there was one more Beatles record after Let It Be, well this it the playlist for you. The whole thing acts as a mixtape that Ethan Hawke writes for his son in the movie. And there...Read more
Vinyl addicts unite: the lasting culture of record collectingLawrence Journal World, July 7th
Mayberger pulls out a framed “Yesterday and Today” Beatles' record, a shocking image of The Fab Four covered with decapitated baby dolls and pieces of meat. The photograph was so controversial, Capitol Records recalled these copies and rather than ...Read more
Ten most valuable albums of all timeTelegraph.co.uk, July 5th
Downloading music may be the future but vinyl reigns supreme for the music cognoscenti. And that could mean that your treasured record collection contains some real investment hits. If you were a punk in the Seventies and have stashed away a copy of...Read more