It was George Bernard Shaw who first asserted that America and Britain were 2 countries “separated by a common language” and it seems he has been proved correct judging by the new boxed set of The US Albums by The Beatles. Released to tie in with the 50th anniversary of the first visit the fab four made to America, these albums are now available for the first time in the UK, and are quite an eye-opener as to the massive differences in which each country regarded these music phenomenons.
Back in the 60’s America was pretty slow on the uptake as far the Beatles were concerned and the stateside partner of their EMI record label, Capitol, passed up the opportunity to release the early singles which then appeared on the independent Vee-Jay label. They were forced to play catch up however when I Want to Hold Your Hand shot the group into the US limelight in 1964. As well as the string of hit singles they also raided the band’s back catalogue and created a whole new set of albums for this vast new market, and this displayed a total disregard for the original intentions of the band.
By the end of that year, the Beatles had released 4 albums in Britain, which clearly highlighted the progress they has made from their enthusiastic covers and fledgling song writing efforts in Please Please Me . They also triumphed with A Hard Day’s Night and the heavily folk influence reflectiveness of Beatles for Sale. Capitol, on the other hand, were flooding the market with no less than 6 albums within that one year, and blurred the clear cut career-arc of the group with their series of randomly sequenced collections that they culled from all points of their then short history.
Listening to these now is somewhat of a painful experience as they jump back and forwards between times and genres, making for unpleasant listening to say the least. They will sell of course, after all it is the Beatles but even casual listeners will be hugely underwhelmed.