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Rob Greaves

The Cream of The Crate - Record #13

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"We thought that if we lasted for two to three years that would be fantastic."
(Ringo Starr)

"I'm a tidy sort of bloke. I don't like chaos. I kept records in the record rack, tea in the tea caddy, and pot in the pot box."
(George Harrison)

"I'm really glad that most of our songs were about love, peace and understanding."
(Paul McCartney)

"Love is the answer and you know that for sure!"
(John Lennon)[/QUOTE]

This is number thirteen in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my collection that I believe have significant musical value.

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One of the things that is different about this record is, that it isn’t a record, it’s a collection of records. It is a boxed set - a boxed set of the BEATLES! I could be accused of ‘coping out’, of not committing myself – but in all honesty it is an impossible task as almost every album in this box set is a classic in itself.

In 1979 Australian Parlophone put together a domestic version of The Beatles Collection using the Australian editions of With The Beatles (Parlophone PCSO 3045) and Beatles For Sale (Parlophone PCSO 3062). Both bear cover art unique to Australia. This set also included Rarities and, because it was mastered by Australian Parlophone, She's A Woman, Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand and This Boy were all pressed in true stereo. Despite the then high price of $120, this set initially sold over 25,000 units, placing it squarely in Australia's Top 40.

So, why does this album hold pride of place? Well it contains 13 of the Australian vinyl LP releases, and only one album is missing – Magical Mystery Tour. Although the tracks have now been remixed several times, with some mono tracks are now available in stereo, and more recently true high fidelity releases have been made of all albums, the albums in this boxed set contain the music, as we of the 60’s generation heard them, and remember them.

There has been so much written about the Beatles and their music, it is a case that anything I say will have been said before, and probably expressed better.

The 13 albums in this boxed set are:

* Please Please Me. Parlophone. PCS 3042. March, 1963
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* With The Beatles. Parlophone. PCS 3045. November, 1963
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* A Hard Day’s Night. Parlophone. PCS 3058. July, 1964

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* Beatles For Sale. Parlophone. PCS 3062. December, 1964
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* Help! Parlophone. PCS 3071. August, 1965
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* Rubber Soul. Parlophone. PCS 3071. December, 1965

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* Revolver. Parlophone. PCS 7009. August, 1966
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* Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Parlophone. PCS 7027. June, 1967

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* The Beatles (the “White Album”). Apple. PCS 7067/8. November, 1968

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* Yellow Submarine. Apple. PCS 7070. December, 1968
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* Abbey Road. Apple. PCS 7008. September 1968
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* Let It Be. Apple. PXS 1. May, 1970

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* Rarities. Compilation. EMI/Parlophone. PSLP 261. [released as part of the boxed set, but not as a single album until October, 1979]

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I really am unable to pick a favourite album. Each album has tracks that stand out either because they are classic pieces of Beatles compositions, or the arrangements are, putting it simply, brilliant! There are tracks that move me even today, and others that I simply want to sing along to. Finally, there are tracks where individual Beatles stand out for a variety of reasons. In essence, it is a boxed set of 13 albums that can be seen to represent almost 7 years of musical brilliance and to represent a period of great innovation and musicality.

Each of us that listen to these albums will choose different tracks as our favourites, and at times we will choose the same tracks. One thing these four guys were able to do, was to touch in the listener a sympathetic chord that resonated because we either had been in the same ‘place,’ or wanted to be in the same ‘place’ that the music eluded to.

Now in retrospect I listen with a certain degree of nostalgia as different albums and even different tracks transport me back to times that remain indelibly etched into my mind, almost universally, as really good times. However, I can still listen with a degree of freshness as so many years have passed and whereas once the Beatles were among a select number of groups that were part of my staple diet of music, now it is almost a ‘special occasion’ type of music. Now I don’t have an issue with that, because it does mean that when a number of years have passed and you listen again, it is amazing just how you hear elements with a fresh ear.

I remember when the great Sergeant Pepper's album came out. It WAS ground breaking, of that there is no debate. So, the musicologist were crying with delight and pulling every stanza apart and examining every change and trying to attach each part of every composition to a historical musical movement – all to the amusement of the Beatles. In fact the album is explainable as a series of non-related pieces of music that were conceived and executed by four musicians, who individual and collective talents, and whose music journeys led and followed the popular cultural explosion at the time, resulted in this simply amazing album.

As a result of the production work during and post recording, and the need for us all to try and make sense of the revolutionary social changes, that were happening at the time, both involving popular drugs of the day as well as the need of a generation to make a strong declaration about their beliefs, led to an album that is in fact completely coherent as a single piece of work, whilst still made up of diverse parts.

“There was definitely a movement of people. All I am saying is: we weren't really trying to cater for that movement - we were just being part of it, as we always had been. I maintain The Beatles weren't the leaders of the generation, but the spokesmen. We were only doing what the kids in the art schools were all doing. It was a wild time, and it feels to me like a time warp - there we were in a magical wizard-land with velvet patchwork clothes and burning joss sticks……” – Paul McCartney.

One album that appears in this set, and does not appear in this form in any of the other boxed sets released around the world, is the blue Rarities album. It’s probably not in the top 5 of most peoples Beatles collections (for those of us who still maintain such a collection).

This is what the web site had to say on this particular album.

The Rarities album was designed to complement the Beatles' original twelve albums by pulling together many of their single releases not available on British LPs. Unlike Capitol Records in America, British Parlophone rarely duplicated songs issued as singles on later albums.

The British Rarities (EMI/Parlophone PSLP 261), consists of seventeen tracks, including such obscure B-sides as The Inner Light and You Know My Name (Look Up The Number), along with the original version of Across The Universe and the first British release of Sie Liebt Dich and Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand (She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand sung in German). Together, these thirteen albums make up most of the Beatles studio output. However, this set is not complete. One glaring omission was Hey Jude, one of the Beatles' biggest selling singles.

The U.S. Rarities (Capitol SPRO 8969), compiled in Los Angeles, contains two mistakes. For some unknown reason, Sie Liebt Dich and Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand were replaced with the not-too-rare English versions of She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand. The album became a much sought-after collector's item not only because just 3,000 copies were pressed, but also because it contained the first American release of the original version of Across The Universe.

In England, the excessive publicity given the Beatles box sparked a demand for the commercial release of Rarities. British fans wanted the convenience of having most of their Beatles collection together on LPs and also of having Sie Liebt Dich and Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand available domestically. Due to the pressure exerted by disc jockeys and the music press, EMI decided to issue the album to the general public. The record sold well, resulting in further releases throughout Europe and in Japan (Odeon 63010).

There is one final, small but important element to this boxed set and that is, that it came with an individual photo of each of the Beatles, adding to the collectability of the set. In what is both an element of luck, and of care, my four photos have not just remained intact but are as new.
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So finally, whereas back in the 1960’s it was almost de rigueur to have most, if not all the Beatles albums in your collection, today, they are just another interesting group to most younger people. The chances are that many of you who survived the journey through the 1960’s, ‘70’s & even the 80’s, have probably lost, had stolen or even sold some of your Beatles collection. So with next year being the fiftieth anniversary of their first album release, it’s probably a appropriate time to begin to reflect on this group, who bought about such monumental changes in music, fashion and even helped shape the Politics of Peace!
[This is the final "Cream of The Crate" posting for 2012. Thank you to all you who have read my reviews and a special thanks to those who contacted me personally, or contacted me through Facebook. "Cream of The Crate" will return in 2013!]

Beatles Live in Melbourne - All My Loving

Beatles Live - I Feel Fine

Beatles Collage - Yellow Submarine

Beatles Live - Hey Jude

Previous Cream of The Crate Albums

#1 – Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

#2 – Otis Redding: Otis Blue/ Otis Redding Sings Soul

#3 – Dr John The Night Tripper: Gris Gris

#4 – Spectrum: ROYGBIV

#5 – Son House: The Real Delta Blues

#6 – Cruisin ‘61

#7 – Live At The Station Hotel

#8 – Crosby, Stills Nash & Young: Déjà Vu

#9 – Moon Mullican: Rock it to the Moon

#10 – Billy Thorpe: Time Traveller

#11 – Bobby and Laurie: Cum Sum Ambulant (Hitch Hiker)

#12 – Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland

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