Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beatles 22: Rarities

Meanwhile in England, EMI put together a handsome boxed set of all the original LPs—not including A Collection Of Beatles Oldies, Magical Mystery Tour or Hey Jude, both of which had received official UK release around this time—with a bonus disc called Rarities that served to mop up some of the leftovers from various singles and EPs. This collection eventually turned up as a separate entity outside of the box, and was even imported to the US due to its inclusion of three previously unalbumized songs, but it was neither chronological nor all-inclusive.
After a certain amount of shuffling, a strictly American Rarities appeared in early 1980. Rather than replicating the British one exactly, Capitol went all out with a unique cover, tons of uncommon photos, fairly accurate liner notes and even a clean reproduction of the so-called butcher photo. A big deal was also made of the return of the “rainbow” label. All this nicely frames the music within, which combines tracks and takes never before available on a Capitol LP, along with more subtle mix variations.
Side one begins with the elusive “Love Me Do” with Ringo on drums—so elusive, in fact, that the recording had to be taken from an old record. “Misery”, “There’s A Place” and “Sie Liebt Dich” made their first Capitol appearances, and in stereo to boot. “And I Love Her” features two extra repeats of the riff at the end from a German mix. “Help!” appears as the British mono single with a faster lead vocal. “I’m Only Sleeping” comes from the British mono Revolver with alternate guitar effects. “I Am The Walrus” combines two unique versions, incorporating extra beats after “I’m crying” from the US single and two extra intro riffs from the British stereo version.
“Penny Lane” was first heard as a mono DJ copy on your AM radio with a trumpet tag at the end; this version is in stereo with those extra notes tacked on. “Helter Skelter” and “Don’t Pass Me By” are markedly different mixes from the mono White Album; “Helter Skelter” also does not fade back in here. The B-sides “The Inner Light” and “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” finally surfaced on LP, as does the original version of “Across The Universe” with vocals by two Apple Scruffs and bird sound effects. To round it all off, “Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove” is the two seconds of gibberish that was looped on the first British copies of that LP to be heard ad nauseam.
All in all Rarities is a fairly listenable set, with tracks that many casual fans hadn’t heard before. Of course, it sold well, and also fueled the fires of collectors looking for anything and everything from the vaults. While many of the songs would be included in the standard CD canon, it’s doubtful that all of these alternate mixes will ever be available again officially.

The Beatles Rarities (1980)—
Current CD equivalent: none

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