On this day in music history: December 4, 1964 – “Beatles For Sale”, the fourth album by The Beatles is released. Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from August 11 – October 26, 1964. The bands’ fourth release (and second album of the year), the overall mood and feel of the material is decidedly quieter than the bands’ previous efforts, exhausted by their extremely hectic schedule during the past year. It also shows the influence of Bob Dylan on several cuts, who they met in New York during their first world tour. No singles are released from the album in the UK, though “Eight Days A Week” is in the US, reaching number one in March 1965. “No Reply” is also considered a contender, but is passed over in favor of “I Feel Fine” (released as a stand alone single in November). The album is originally not released in the US under this title or with the same track listing. Capitol Records takes eight songs from the UK album (plus one stray track from “A Hard Day’s Night”), padding them out with singles and releasing them as the album “Beatles ‘65” and taking the remaining six tracks, (filling them out with material from the as yet released “Help!” soundtrack and the non-album B-side “Yes It Is”) and are released as “Beatles VI” in June of 1965. The original UK album is not issued in the US until 1987. The stereo and mono versions of the album are remastered and reissued on CD in 2009. The stereo vinyl LP is reissued in 2012 and the mono version in 2014. “Beatles For Sale” spends eleven weeks at number one on the UK album chart.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1965 – “Rubber Soul”, the sixth album by The Beatles is released (US release date is on December 8, 1965). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from June 17, October 12 – November 11, 1965. Recorded in just four weeks following their second world tour, the album is a major artistic milestone in The Beatles’ career, demonstrating yet another great leap forward in the bands’ material both musically and lyrically. The influence folk rock (particularly Bob Dylan and The Byrds) is apparent on several tracks. No singles are released from the album, but nearly every track becomes an airplay staple over the years including “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, “Michelle”, “Drive My Car”, “In My Life” and “If I Needed Someone”. Needing additional material for the album, initially they intent to record a song that their recording engineer Norman Smith has written. Though it doesn’t come to pass, and they instead include the song “Wait”, originally recorded for the “Help!” soundtrack but left off of that album. The title “Rubber Soul” is a play on the term “plastic soul”, used by African-American musicians to describe Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger, or white musicians playing R&B and blues music. At the end of the first take of “I’m Down” on “The Beatles Anthology 2”, Paul McCartney is heard coining the phrase at its conclusion. The US version features a slightly altered track listing, removing the songs “Nowhere Man”, “What Goes On” (the first two are held back for single release in February of 1966), “Drive My Car”, and “If I Needed Someone” (first issued in the US on “Yesterday And Today” in June of 1966), with “I’ve Just Seen A Face” and “It’s Only Love” (from the non-soundtrack side of “Help!”) being added. The albums’ iconic cover shot is taken by photographer Robert Freeman. He changes the original picture to its distinctive altered state after showing the band slides of the photo session projected on an LP sized piece of cardboard. When the cardboard falls backward it slightly distorts their faces into the now familiar image. After this happens, The Beatles all jump up enthusiastically and ask Freeman, “can we have it like that?”, and the photographer replies “yes, I can print it like that.”, thus creating one of the band’s most immediately recognizable and famous album covers. The stereo and mono versions of the album are remastered and reissued on CD in 2009, with the original UK releases being reissued on vinyl in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Regarded as a crowning achievement and major turning point in The Beatles’ career, the album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2000.
“Rubber Soul” tops the UK album chart, spending eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1965 – “We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper” by The Beatles is released (US release date is on December 6, 1965). Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the eleventh US (sixth consecutive chart topper) and ninth UK number one. McCartney begin writing “We Can Work It Out” on his own, with Lennon helping him finish it by composing the songs’ bridge. “Day Tripper” on the other hand is started by Lennon who comes up with the chorus and the songs’ signature guitar hook, with McCartney writing the verses. The pair complete the song in an afternoon, later admitting that it was a “forced composition” since the band needed a new single to release in time for Christmas. The double A-sided single is released concurrently with the album “Rubber Soul” though are not included on the set. “We Can Work It Out” is recorded on October 20, 1965, taking eleven hours of studio time to complete. The flipside “Day Tripper is recorded four days before on October 16, 1965. It charts in the UK with both sides reaching #1. In the US, "We Can Work It Out” spends 3 weeks (non-consecutive) at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 beginning on January 8, 1966, and “Day Tripper” peaks at #5 on January 22, 1966.
On this day in music history: November 29, 1969 – “Come Together” / “Something” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney / George Harrison, it is the eighteenth number one single in the US for the iconic rock quartet. The double A-sided single is the only extract from The Beatles and issued in the US one week after the album (five weeks after in the UK). “Come Together” is written by John (but credited to “Lennon/McCartney”), it begins as a campaign song for his friend Dr. Timothy Leary who is planning to run for Governor of California. The song is instead kept for the band. The opening line of the song, “Here come ol’ flat top” is lifted from the Chuck Berry song “You Can’t Catch Me” resulting in a lawsuit from Morris Levy, whose publishing company owns the rights to the Berry composition. George Harrison writes “Something” during the sessions for “Let It Be”, and is in part inspired by the first line of the James Taylor song “Something In The Way She Moves”, and also by George’s then wife Pattie. It is the first time that one of Harrison’s songs is released as the A-side of a Beatles single when it is issued in the US on October 6, 1969. Both sides enter the Hot 100 on October 18, 1969, with “Something” entering the chart at #20, and “Come Together” at #23. During the time the songs are on the chart, Billboard changes their chart policy regarding the separate charting of single A and B sides. The magazine combines the airplay and sales points of both charting sides, placing them in the same chart position rather than separately. This gives “Something” and “Come Together” the momentum they need to reach number one. By the time, Billboard makes the change in their charting method, Come Together is listed first as the more dominant side in airplay and sales. when the single tops the chart. “Come Together” / “Something” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 27, 1967 – “Magical Mystery Tour” by The Beatles is released in the US (UK release date is on December 8, 1967). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Olympic Studios in London from April 25 – November 7, 1967. The album serves as the soundtrack to an hour long film shown on the BBC on December 26, 1967. After receiving overwhelmingly negative reviews following its UK airing, plans for broadcast in the US are immediately canceled. While the record is issued in the UK as a six track double EP, it is released in the US as an eleven track LP duplicating the picture book included with the EP, except blown up to 12 x 12 size. The US LP also includes the A and B sides of all of the band’s singles released during 1967. It is the last Beatles album to be issued with separate mono and stereo mixes in the US, with the mono LP being pressed in small quantities, it becomes a rare and sought after collector’s item in later years. Three of the albums’ five songs “Penny Lane”, “Baby You’re A Rich Man”, and “All You Need Is Love” are originally presented on the original US pressing in “duophonic” re-channelled stereo since none of these had been mixed into true stereo at the time. Between 1969 and 1971, stereo mixes for these tracks are made and first surface on the German EMI release of the album in 1971. The US version of the LP is finally released in the UK in 1976 after years of strong import sales. The rare US mono version of the album makes its CD debut in September of 2009 on the “Beatles In Mono” box set, replicating the original vinyl LP artwork (in a mini LP gatefold jacket), with the vinyl being reissued in September of 2014. “Magical Mystery Tour” spends eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 26, 1962 – The Beatles record “Please Please Me” and “Ask Me Why” in Studio Two at Abbey Road in London. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the bands’ second attempt at recording “Please”, having previously recorded it on September 11, 1962 (during the session for the second version of “Love Me Do”) in a different and slower arrangement, influenced by Roy Orbison’s “Only The Lonely”. Producer George Martin is initially not fond of the song, and suggests that the bands’ next single be the Mitch Murray penned “How Do You Do It?”. Though the band record the song, their version remains unreleased until its inclusion on “Anthology 1” in 1995, and is given to Gerry & The Pacemakers instead. Lennon and McCartney dramatically re-arrange “Please Please Me” and play it again for Martin. Duly impressed, “Please” is issued along with “Ask Me Why” as The Beatles second single on January 11, 1963. It is their first record released in the US on February 25, 1963 by Chicago based R&B label Vee Jay Records. “Please” reaches #2 on the UK single chart. While the song goes on to be a big hit in the UK, it flops on its original US release. After The Beatles break in the US with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, Vee Jay re-releases “Please Please Me” (b/w “From Me To You” on the second issue) in January 1964, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on March 14, 1964.
On this day in music history: November 25, 1968 – “The Beatles” (aka “The White Album), the ninth album by The Beatles is released (UK release date is on November 22, 1968). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Trident Studios in London from May 30 – October 14, 1968. The album marks the beginning of a difficult and tense period for The Beatles, with various inner conflicts within the band coming to a head during the recording sessions. The squabbling becomes so intense at one point, that Ringo Starr quits the band briefly before being persuaded to return. Recording engineer Geoff Emerick also quits amid the tension, and is replaced by Ken Scott and Chris Thomas. In spite of this, it is still a highly creative period, yielding more than thirty new songs, most of which are written during The Beatles spiritual retreat to India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi earlier in the year. The albums’ cover art designed by Richard Hamilton is a stark white gatefold sleeve with the bands’ name embossed on the front during the original press run. Later copies feature the title printed in light grey ink), and individually stamped with a number (running up to over 3,000,000 in the US). The album also comes packaged with a poster (with a photo collage on one side, and the song lyrics printed on the opposite side), and four individual portraits of the band members. In the UK, it is also the final Beatles album to be issued with separate mono and stereo mixes. The US pressing is released in stereo only. The original mono version of the album is reissued on vinyl in the UK in 1982, and finally on CD in 2009 as part of the "Beatles In Mono” box set. The mono LP is reissued in September of 2014 pressed on 180 gram vinyl, as part of the vinyl LP configuration of the 2009 CD box, and for individual sale. Initial UK LP pressings feature a uniquely designed gatefold sleeve with the jacket openings being on the top instead of on the sides. The mono version of the album is reissued on vinyl in September of 2014, being issued in the US for the first time. To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the album is given a new stereo and 5.1 surround remix by Giles Martin. Issued worldwide on November 9, 2018, the expanded release also contains the legendary “Esher Demos”, featuring twenty seven recordings demoed at George Harrrison’s home studio. Prior to this the demos had only surfaced as bootlegs in mono only. The new release presents them in true stereo for the first time. The album is reissued on both CD and vinyl, either as a three CD, six CD + Blu-ray Super Deluxe box set, double vinyl LP or four LP Super Deluxe box set (the latter containing the only vinyl release of the Esher Demos). “The Beatles” spends nine weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 19x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 24, 1966 – The Beatles begin recording “Strawberry Fields Forever” at Abbey Road Studios in London. After a three month vacation, the band return to the studio to begin work on the follow up to “Revolver”. The first song recorded is a new composition of John Lennon’s titled “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Lennon writes the song in Almeria, Spain while filming “How I Won The War” with director Richard Lester in the early Fall of 1966. One take of the song is recorded that evening, though changes dramatically and grows more complex over the month that it takes to complete the track. The song marks the beginning of a new era in The Beatles creativity that changes the face of popular music yet again. Strawberry Fields is name of a Salvation Army orphanage around the corner from Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool, where he would attend garden parties in the summer. Once in the studio, the song evolves from a gentle, sparsely arranged ballad to a heavily scored piece with horns and strings complimenting the basic track. The finished version of the song consists of two separate versions. Lennon likes the first half of the first remake and the second half of the other. He suggests to producer George Martin that the two be edited together, which at first seems to not be possible since they are recorded in different keys and tempos. Martin discovers that by increasing the speed of one and slowing down the other recording, that they match. Originally intended to be part of the bands’ next album (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”), “Strawberry Fields Forever” is instead issued as one half of a double A-sided single in February 1967 (w/ “Penny Lane”). The band films a promotional clip for the song on January 30 – 31, 1967 in Sevenoaks, Kent, UK, directed by Swedish television director Peter Goldman. “Strawberry Fields Forever” peaks at #2 on the UK singles chart and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On this day in music history: November 23, 1964 – “The Beatles Story” by The Beatles is released. Produced by John Babcock, Roger Christian and Al Wiman, it is recorded at The Capitol Tower and The Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA from August – October 1964. The double LP set is a compilation put together by Capitol Records (released in the US and Canada only) featuring the story of the bands’ rise to fame told in voice over, interview clips and music. The album is a response to “Hear The Beatles Tell All”, a similar release issued by rival label Vee Jay Records. It also includes brief excerpts from the bands first live concert at The Hollywood Bowl, which is released as part of the “The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl” album in May of 1977. Like many other items with The Beatles name on it, it is a rapid seller (in spite of its brief running time, with it clocking it at barely thirteen to fourteen minutes per side). The album remains in print until it is deleted in 1988. In January of 2014, the album is reissued on CD for the first time as part of the box set “The Beatles – The US Albums”. Unlike the other titles included in the box, “The Beatles Story” is exclusive to the box set, and is not available for purchase separately. “The Beatles Story” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.