Friday, April 18, 2008

Beatles 9: Yesterday And Today

It’s safe to say that over the years, most people have been more interested in collecting various versions of this album’s sleeve in various states than they have been in actually listening to the contents. Without going into immense detail, some bright bulb at Capitol actually went along with the band’s notion that cover art depicting the lovable moptops in bloody smocks and maniacal grins holding slabs of raw meat and burnt, decapitated baby dolls was a good idea. Within days, “Yesterday”…And Today was redistributed with a cover photo that was just as hideous, but for less lurid reasons.
All this back story tends to overshadow the fact that it’s still an interesting album. The single pairing of “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work It Out” got simultaneous worldwide release at Christmas, but their non-appearance on the American Rubber Soul proves that the Capitol marketing department was not ruled by any set strategy or logic; hence it’s nice to have them here. “Nowhere Man” had been pulled from the British Rubber Soul for use as a late-winter single, and it was included with the previous summer’s “Yesterday” (not released as a single in the UK until 1976) and their Ringo-sung B-sides (“Act Naturally” and “What Goes On”) on the album as well.
Using those remainders from Help! and Rubber Soul, plus the previous holiday single and three tracks from the upcoming Revolver, this album covers a wide spectrum, from experimental Pop Art to the slush of the title tune. It’s those new tracks—“I’m Only Sleeping”, “Dr. Robert” and “And Your Bird Can Sing”, all three surreal Lennon compositions making their worldwide debut here—that give this album its edge. Add the stellar chromium shine of “Nowhere Man” and “If I Needed Someone”, and “Yesterday”…And Today forms a bridge of sorts between Rubber Soul and Revolver. (However, Capitol took a gamble by not including “Paperback Writer” and “Rain”, the current worldwide single.) For all that, it manages to succeed. Even if some of the songs were over a year old.
Those who did appreciate the album for its musical merit certainly welcomed its inclusion in the 2014 “U.S. Albums” rollout. Not only did it include all the songs in both mono and stereo, but it also came with a sticker of the first cover, making it a neat mini-replica.

The Beatles “Yesterday”…And Today (1966)—4
UK CD equivalent: Help!/Rubber Soul/Revolver/Past Masters

2 comments:

  1. It wasn't anybody at the record company who came up with the idea for the original sleeve. It was actually John. I got this info from their biography SHOUT! The Beatles In Their Generation. He was actually pretty mad that the record company decided to replace it.

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  2. Excellent point. I should clarify that what I meant was I found it amazing that the record company went along with the idea in the first place.

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