Back in the Beatles heyday, they eventually decided that they wanted to make their singles and B-sides exclusive to the 45s their fans were buying, and not have them appear on albums. This may have been the case for (most) of their UK albums, but when Capitol released the Beatles' music, they managed to shuffle up the 14 album tracks, the A-side singles and B-sides, and make multiple 10-track LPs, and definitely got their moneys' worth (much against the Beatles' wishes).
One of these re-hashed albums was the 11-track Magical Mystery Tour
, which featured all of the 1967 released songs that weren't featured on Sgt. Pepper
. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the only American Beatles album to consist entirely of tracks that do not appear on any traditional British Beatles album. Because of this, the import of the Magical Mystery Tour LP became very popular in the UK, and eventually, in 1976, it was released officially in England.
When the Beatles' catalog was released on compact disc form, it was decided (and wisely so) that only the British catalog would be released, leaving albums that had become familiar to American listeners' ears something of the past. A decision had to be made about how to go about releasing single-only tracks (as well as EP tracks). Should they be included as bonus tracks on the albums, thus potentially re-writing historic albums? It's nice to know that the originals stayed intact, and it was decided that the remaining studio recordings would be bunched together in a 2 disc collection called Past Masters
The concept of the compilation is great. The only problem is that it has a giant hole in the middle of Volume II. We jump from 1966's "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" to 1968's "Lady Madonna," skipping over all 3 non-LP singles (and their B-sides) released in 1967. Why? Because it was also decided that Magical Mystery Tour
had taken a Musical History Rewrite
and apparently became an official album in the Beatles' catalog at some point in time.
Now this may sound very hypocritical, but if you're going to induct Magical Mystery Tour into the back catalog, why not get rid of Yellow Submarine
, since it only had 4 new tracks, and just throw them into the Past Masters
Shortly after the release (and heavy backlash) of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album in early 1969, there were actually plans to release a double EP of the new songs as an alternate (and cheaper) way of purchasing these new tunes. But this release never did happen.
With all of this being said, I must say, I am overall quite satisfied with how the release of the Beatles' music has been handled. Thankfully we didn't have to experience an Elvis Presley-like re-hashing of the same hits every year in a slightly different packaging. I am glad that there are essentially only two options fans have for hits compilations (the one-disc 1
or the four-disc Red and Blue albums)...it's terrible when an artist has more compilations than studio albums.
But, I must say, I probably would have taken a different approach to the release of Past Masters.
1) Forget the idea of splitting them into two separate albums. Keep 'em together.
2) The album artwork is incredibly boring. Even those useless '70s and '80s vinyl compilations Love Songs
, Reel Music
, 20 Greatest Hits
, The Beatles Ballads
and yes, even Rock 'n' Roll Music
had much more interesting covers. We don't need an all-black album cover. We have With the Beatles
and Let It Be
. And we don't need any more white album covers. We have Revolver
and (obviously) the White Album. Give us something colourful and exciting.
3) Include the 1967 singles, their B-sides, the Magical Mystery Tour EP, and the four songs exclusive to the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. This makes for a better historical representation of their career. Past Masters contains all of their non-album singles and EPs, and let's face it: Magical Mystery Tour is a non-album.
4) And even though we don't REALLY need it, the Beatles did manage to have a Top 20 hit in the early '80s with "The Beatles' Movie Medley." It might not be an actual song, but why not include it as a bonus track?
So, here is my suggestion of what Past Masters should have been:PAST MASTERSDisc I
1. Love Me Do [Original Single Version]
2. From Me to You
3. Thank You Girl
4. She Loves You
5. I'll Get You
6. I Want to Hold Your Hand
7. This Boy
8. Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
9. Sie Liebt Dich
10. Long Tall Sally
11. I Call Your Name
12. Slow Down
14. I Feel Fine
15. She's a Woman
16. Bad Boy
17. Yes It Is
18. I'm Down
19. Day Tripper
20. We Can Work It Out
21. Paperback Writer
23. Strawberry Fields Forever
24. Penny Lane
25. All You Need Is Love
26. Baby, You're a Rich Man
27. Hello, Goodbye
28. I Am the Walrus Disc II
1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. Your Mother Should Know
3. The Fool on the Hill
5. Blue Jay Way
6. Lady Madonna
7. The Inner Light
8. Hey Jude
9. Revolution [Single Version]
10. Only a Northern Song
11. All Together Now
12. Hey Bulldog
13. It's All Too Much
14. Get Back [Single Version]
15. Don't Let Me Down
16. The Ballad of John and Yoko
17. Old Brown Shoe
18. Across the Universe [Wildlife Version]
19. Let It Be [Single Version]
20. You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)Bonus tracks:
21. The Beatles' Movie Medley
22. Christmas Time (Is Here Again) (only on post-1995 pressings; song was the B-side for "Free as a Bird")
note: songs marked with an asterisk
- were not included on the original version of Past Masters