Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rock 'N' Roll Music

Nah, not the Chuck Berry tune but the first EMI/Capitol international release after the completion of the Beatles' contract with EMI. This is a 2-LP set and was never released on compact disc.

The two discs are the first in a short series of "theme albums" whose idea originated probably from the Capitol execs in Los Angeles, California, USA. Most of the songs are previous LP tracks and four of the tracks are repeats from the 1962-1966/1967-1970 releases. A good thing about the track listing was the inclusion of the "Help!" single B-side "I'm Down" which was the first time the song appeared in stereo and was available on an LP for UK and North America. The track listing also featured the four "Long Tall Sally" LP tracks (see entry) in stereo and on an LP for the first time in the UK.

The tracks were mixed differently for the North American market and the UK market. The president of Capitol Records, Bhaskar Menon claimed that he could not get hold of any of the Beatles for this release (yeah, right !!) so he contacted George Martin for the approval of the tapes. Capitol used two track dubs which basically had the vocals on one channel and the instruments on the other (similar to the UK mixes). George Martin narrowed the separation and EQ'ed the Capitol tapes. The UK tapes were released in their original form.

"Rock 'N' Roll Music" was also the first release after the expiration of the Beatles' contract with EMI to not feature the Apple label. The North American release reverted back to the Capitol label while the UK release reverted back to the Parlophone label.

The cover for the LP was not recieved very well at the time. It features the art direction of Roy Kohara (who had designed a couple of John and Ringo LP covers in the 70s including "Walls and Bridges", "Rock 'N' Roll", "Shaved Fish", "Goodnight Vienna" and "Blast from Your Past"). The illustrations were by Ignacio Gomez. The front cover featured the Beatles drawn in the "Ed Sullivan" era from a photo previously used on a Capitol LP ("Second Album"). There are two thumbs visible like someone holding the LP cover and the artist title and LP title in neon-like tubing. Not the best cover. The back features a drawing of the Beatles in the same position but from the back. The neon tubing is reversed. Track listing is on the upper left and right. The inside gatefold included 1950s retro symbols such as a cheeseburger, drive in, a drawing of Marilyn Monroe, a glass of Coca-Cola, a tail fin Chevy, a juke box, 45 singles palm trees, music notes and two more thumbs similar to the outside cover. A lot of fans criticized the inside cover saying that it didn't represent the Beatles although (to be fair), the concept of the LP was not the Beatles, but the music that they had covered during the 1950s. Interestingly, the North American version of the LP had custom labels with a glass of Coca-Cola on the label whereby the UK version had the black and silver Parlophone labels. It has been said the John Lennon wrote to EMI requested to design the cover for this project, but was turned down. This brings up my earlier point that Mr. Menon of Capitol states that he could not get hold of any Beatles for final approval of the LP tracking !!!

"Rock 'N' Roll Music" was released in the UK on June 10 1976 (Parlophone PCSP 719) and was released in North America on either June 07 1976 (reference: Stannard) or June 11 1976 (refernce: Spizer) (Capitol SKBO-11537).

It's highest position on the chart was number 10 (in the UK) and number 02 (in North America behind "Wings At the Speed of Sound").

1 comment:

  1. The back features a drawing of the Beatles in the same position but from the back. The neon tubing is reversed. Track listing is on the upper left and right. classic rock music