The Capitol Albums, Volume 2 is a box set compilation composed of The Beatles’ 1965 American Capitol Records releases. The set, which contains stereo and mono versions of all 92 tracks (with all of the tracks on The Early Beatles and many of the tracks on Beatles VI being released in stereo on compact disc for the first time) was announced on 22 March 2006.
Differences between the stereo and mono mixes are one of the main draws for collectors. There are also a few significant musical differences to other versions of these recordings, such as a false start on the stereo version of “I’m Looking Through You”.
As with The Capitol Albums, Volume 1, the CDs did not contain the original George Martin mixes released in Britain in the 1960s. Instead, the CDs were mastered from tapes prepared by Capitol A&R executive Dave Dexter, Jr., who, in 1965 took sub-master tapes from Capitol Records’ vaults and added reverb to several tracks and simulated stereo on mono tracks.
The official release date of 11 April 2006, was the 42nd anniversary of The Beatles holding a record 14 positions in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This was one week after The Beatles monopolized the top 5 positions in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The UK release was slightly earlier than the official date. Some advance copies were circulated and pre-orders were also shipped early.
The box set debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart on 29 April 2006, at number 46, with approximate sales of 27,000 copies. It was awarded a gold record by the RIAA on 19 May 2006.
Incorrect mono versions
Box sets and sampler discs made available prior to the 11 April release date have incorrect mono versions on Beatles VI and Rubber Soul. The incorrect mono versions were only released in this set. These “fold-down” mono versions are actually the stereo mix consolidated into both speakers. Although the versions are technically in mono (in the sense that the sound in both the right and left channels is the same), they are not the actual mono mixes released by Capitol in 1965.
Beatles author Bruce Spizer, who also wrote the set’s in-depth liner notes, told The Beatles fan website What Goes On that a “third party mastering facility incorrectly sent stereo-to-mono mixdowns” to be pressed rather than the vintage mono mixes.
The mistake was understandable, as the US mono mixes of the vinyl release of The Early Beatles and Help! were fold-down versions of the stereo mixes. But, the US vinyl release of both Beatles VI and Rubber Soul actually had different mono mixes. It was initially unknown whether this error was restricted to one pressing plant, or all pressings, but now seems to involve all sets prior to the issue of the “corrected” version.
An explanation for the mistake given at the time was that Capitol anticipated that the stereo versions would sometimes be played back in mono, and wanted to test how they would sound if played that way, (for Beatles VI and Rubber Soul; this concern not being an issue for the other two) and so made fold-down copies of the stereo versions of these just to test how they would sound in mono, and by mistake someone caused these recordings to be issued in lieu of the true mono mixes.
The easiest way to tell if a particular copy has the correct mono mixes is to check the total playing time of the discs on a CD player. Discs with the correct mono mixes have a slightly longer playing time.
Disc 1 = 52:25
Disc 2 = 56:16 (disc with incorrect mono version is 56:01)
Disc 3 = 59:07
Disc 4 = 59:08 (disc with incorrect mono version is 59:01)
From the liner notes:
1964 was an incredible year for The Beatles in America. In February, the group played the country’s most prestigious concert venue, Carnegie Hall, and appeared three times on The Ed Sullivan Show, twice drawing then record-breaking audiences of over 70 million people.
That summer, they toured North America for a month, performing in 24 cities. But in an era where there was no MTV or DVDs, Americans were primarily exposed to the Beatles through saturation radio airplay and vinyl records.
Beginning with the release of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on December 26, 1963, Capitol issued seven singles, four albums and one extended play (EP) disc by The Beatles in one year. During that same time period, the group’s British label, Parlophone, released three singles, two albums and four EPs. While these drastically different catalogs may seem strange today, it was not unusual at the time. Record companies throughout the world issued songs by foreign artists as they saw fit, often reconfiguring and re-titling albums and determining which songs to release as singles. Capitol was merely following standard industry standards.
Capitol’s alterations to the British albums were driven by song publishing and marketing reasons. Due to differences in the way publishing royalties were calculated in America and England, the company limited its LPs to the American maximum of 11 or 12 songs whereas EMI was averaging 14 songs per album. While Beatles manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin believed that singles should not be placed on albums because it forced consumers to buy the same song twice, Capitol believed that hit singles made hit albums. The strategy worked. The placement of the hit single “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and Meet The Beatles! contributed significantly to the Capitol album selling an incredible 3.6 million copies in two months.
During 1964, Capitol sold over 15 million Beatles records. Many people believed it was a fluke, that Beatlemania was a fad that had lasted longer than expected, but would soon run its course. The challenge for Capitol in 1965 was to keep Beatlemania alive with strategically issued singles and albums. The groundwork was laid during the latter part of 1964 when Capitol programmed its Beatles ’65 album. Capitol pulled eight songs from the British LP Beatles For Sale, leaving the other six for later release. Although Eight Days A Week was one of the highlights of the British LP, Capitol chose not to place the song on Beatles ’65, instead holding the song for later release as a single, issued on February 15, 1965, ‘Eight Days A Week’ shot to the top of the charts and would later serve as the hit single to help sell Capitol’s next Beatles album of new material. But prior to compiling that record, Capitol had some housekeeping to do.
The songs from the group’s first British album, Please Please Me, were not originally issued on Capitol. Those songs appeared on Vee-Jay, a Chicago-based independent label specializing in gospel and R&B recordings. Vee-Jay obtained the American rights to The Beatles on January 10, 1963, after Capitol passed on the group’s ‘Please Please Me’ single. Vee-Jay released that song on February 7, 1963, and a few months later issued ‘From Me To You.’ Neither single sold well, and the company cancelled plans to issue its 12-song version of the group’s first album, re-titled Introducing The Beatles. After Capitol signed the group in late November, 1963, and word spread of the company’s plans for a massive publicity campaign, Vee-Jay resurrected its Beatles masters.
Vee-Jay issued Introducing The Beatles on January 10, 1964, ten days ahead of Meet The Beatles! Capitol was not amused, believing its agreement with EMI gave it the exclusive American rights to the group. On January 13, 1964, Capitol filed an injunction seeking to prohibit Vee-Jay from manufacturing or distributing Beatles records. Vee-Jay responded with its own law suit, claiming its January 10, 1963, licensing agreement for Beatles masters was still in effect.
After a series of court battles, the two companies entered into a settlement under which Vee-Jay retained its rights to 16 Beatles songs through October 15, 1964. At that time, the masters transferred to Capitol, thus ending Vee-Jay’s rights to distribute Beatles records.
By March, 1965, relatively few copies of Introducing The Beatles remained in stores as most of the pre-October 15, 1964, inventory had been sold. Capitol decided it was time to fill this void in the Beatles catalog and issue its own collection of songs from the group’s Please Please Me LP. Of the 14 songs on the British album, Capitol dropped ‘I Saw Her Standing There,’ which was on Meet The Beatles!, and two Lennon-McCartney originals, ‘Misery’ and ‘There’s A Place.’ The label also reworked the running order, leading off with the hit singles ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘Twist And Shout.’ Because the disc contained recordings that were at least two years old, the album was titled The Early Beatles.
As many fans already had the same songs on Introducing The Beatles, the album offered little, if anything, new other than a picture of the group previously unavailable in America. It was not initially a big seller, peaking at number 43 on the Billboard Top LP’s chart.
On April 19, 1965, Capitol released The Beatles first newly recorded single of the year, ‘Ticket To Ride.’ As expected, the disc quickly topped the charts. But with The Early Beatles failing to generate a buzz, and the soundtrack album for the group’s second film, Help!, not scheduled until mid-August, the summer looked bleak unless Capitol could hastily assemble and issue a new Beatles album. The six songs leftover from Beatles For Sale, including four “previously unreleased in America” tracks and both side of Capitol’s ‘Eight Days A Week single,’ were available.
As planned, ‘Eight Days A Week’ would be the hit single to help drive sales of the new album. Because the group’s current single, ‘Ticket To Ride,’ would be featured in the upcoming film and appear on the soundtrack LP, Capitol decided against placing the song on its new album. However, the single’s flip side, ‘Yes It Is,’ could be included as it was not selected for the movie. This left Capitol four songs short of its 11-song minimum needed for an album.
Discussion with EMI and George Martin revealed that there were two completed songs from the current session that would not be used in the film, namely ‘You Like Me Too Much’ and ‘Tell Me What You See.’ To help Capitol complete its album, The Beatles made a special trip to Abbey Road on May 10, 1965 to record the remaining two songs needed for the album. As time was of the essence, the group played it safe by recording two Larry Williams rockers, ‘Bad Boy’ and ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy,’ that had been part of the band’s stage show during their formative years. Tapes of the songs were sent the following day to Capitol by air freight. The album was titled Beatles VI and released on June 14, 1965. It was certified gold ten days later and had spent its first of six straight weeks at number one by July 10.
While United Artists Records had the American soundtrack album rights for The Beatles first film, A Hard Days Night, Capitol had the rights to assemble a soundtrack album for Help!, the group’s second movie. In England, Parlophone repeated its practice of issuing an album with songs from the film on side one and additional new recordings by the group on side two. (Three of those songs had previously appeared on Beatles VI.)
Capitol issued an album with the seven Beatles songs from the film augmented with ‘Exclusive Instrumental Music From the Picture’s Soundtrack.” Ken Thorne’s score for the film consisted of a mix of Thorne originals, classical music and orchestrated Beatles tunes, often with an Indian flavor. It was during the filming of Help! that George Harrison had his first encounter with Indian music and the sitar. Harrison would soon play sitar on ‘Norwegian Wood,’ one of many highlights of the group’s next album, Rubber Soul.
Capitol’s Help! LP was issued with a deluxe gatefold cover on August 13, 1965. Capitol’s first pressing of one million units was the largest initial album order in the history of the business at that time. The disc topped the charts for nine weeks and sold over three million copies.
Americans who thought Beatlemania would subside in 1965 were in for a rude shock that August and September. Fans flocked to see the group’s second film at theaters nationwide. On August 15, The Beatles opened their North American tour in a bold way by selling out New York’s Shea Stadium. The day before, the group taped six songs before a live audience for broadcast on the September 12 season opener for The Ed Sullivan Show. Two of those songs, ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Act Naturally,’ were part of Capitol’s four-song inventory of unissued tracks from the British Help! album. Capitol shrewdly scheduled the release of a single featuring those songs for the day after the Sullivan broadcast.
When Capitol received copies of the master tapes for The Beatles latest British album, Rubber Soul, the company recognized that The Beatles had prepared a special album, one that should not be dissected beyond recognition. Capitol kept the album’s British title and utilized its striking front cover and back cover’s photo montage. The company also realized that the high quality of the songs made it unnecessary to place a hit on the album. Thus, neither the recent hit ‘Yesterday’ nor the songs from The Beatles new 45 containing ‘We Can Work It Out’ and ‘Day Tripper’ were planned for the LP. Still, Capitol’s strategy of holding back songs for later release as singles meant that some changes would be made.
In programming its version of Rubber Soul, Capitol had the luxury of being able to use two tracks, ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ and ‘It’s Only Love’, from the British Help! LP that had yet to be issued in America. This gave Capitol 16 potential tracks for its 12-song album. The company decided to hold back ‘Nowhere Man’, ‘What Goes On’, ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘If I Needed Someone’ from the British Rubber Soul. ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face,’ which had gone largely unnoticed on side two of the British Help! LP, was elevated to prominence by being selected to open the Capitol version of Rubber Soul. The other Help! holdover, ‘It’s Only Love,’ was placed at the start of side two. Capitol wisely left the running order of the remaining songs intact.
By adding two acoustic tracks from the British Help! LP, Capitol crafted a brilliant album with a cohesive folk-rock sound. This is not to say that the Capitol Rubber Soul is better than the original album produced by The Beatles and George Martin. It is a different listening experience. They both have their own special subtleties and both are to be savored.
Listeners will notice that the ten songs taken from the British Rubber Soul album have severe stereo separation with voices in one channel and instruments in the other. This was not unique to the original Capitol stereo album, as these mixes appeared on the British stereo LP as well. When Rubber Soul was prepared for CD release in 1987, the songs were remixed in a more conventional manner. The false start heard at the beginning of the stereo version of ‘I’m Looking Through You’ is unique to the Capitol LP.
Rubber Soul was released in America on December 6, 1965, in time for holiday sales. The album toped the charts for six weeks and sold over four million units.
During 1965, Capitol Records released four albums, five singles and an EP compared to the two albums, three singles and three EPs issued in England. By creatively utilizing the incredible music supplied by The Beatles, Capitol not only sustained Beatlemania in America, but helped push it to new heights.
Last updated on May 9, 2021