Saturday, May 7, 2011

Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles

The next Unites States release is somewhat in question for me. I've consulted both Spizer's Vee Jay book and the Castleman/Podrazik "All together Now" discgraphy. Spizer tells us that this LP was released/distrubuted sometime in late July while Castleman/Podrazik places it's release on October 01 1964. I'll go with Spizer for this one just for the fact that his research indicates as many original documents within the legal perimeter as possible of this release. Remember that Vee Jay could legally re-issue their master recordings as they saw fit after a court ruling brought on by Capitol/EMI records in June 1964.

So, all in all, "Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles" is nothing more than a re-packaging of "Introducing The Beatles" with a different cover and catalogue number. The labels and the records packaged with this release are version two "Introducing The Beatles" vinyl with "Please Please Me" and "Ask Me Why" in the same configuration as the previous "Introducing The Beatles" posting.

The catalogue number on the cover is VJ 1092 for the mono version and VJS 1092 for the stereo versions. This LP was only released in the United States. The front cover uses a three-quarters length gatefold cover with the Dezo Hoffmann photograph featured on both the 45 single picture sleeve "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "Can't Buy Me Love"/ and the back cover of the Canadian LP "Twist And Shout" also uses this photograph. Underneath the photo are a facsimile of the Beatles' autographs. The title; "Beatles" in large orange is at the top of the front cover with the track listing in red underneath and the VJ logo in blue.

The three quarters inner gatefold has the track listings for side one and side two separated and surrounded with various colour tinted photos of the individual Beatles as well as a group shot in the middle. The main inner gatefold has blurbs for each member of the band with a corresponding drawing of the member's face to the right of it. The drawings can be seen when the three-quarter cover is closed. Top to bottome order: Paul, John, George and Ringo.

The back cover is black with a large photo of Ringo to the left which is yellow tinted and the words in white: "Ringo Love" and a drawing of a perferated heart where you can insert or tape or paste your personal photo. To the right is Paul in purple tint with the same blurb and heart. Next is George in blue tint and then John in red tine. This was the typical marketing for VJ which I personally find treated their young girls like little children at this point but I guess this is the sign of the times when the Beatles were being treated by business more as a fad and boy band than serious musicians and ground breakers.

For the mono covers, the catalogue number appears on the bottom right side of the black background on the front. For stereo covers, "STEREO" appears in blue at the top center in blue along with the stereo catalogue number on the left of it in white. Some stereo covers are simply mono covers with a "STEREO" sticker stuck over the mono catalogue number.

Lastly, there are covers that were customized with "banners" that were stuck to the front cover indicating a concert location for the 1964 Beatles tour and marketed as :"Souvenir of their appearance at (city and date). These covers with the banners are fairly rare as they were limited and sold in record stores (not at the actual concert). Both mono and stereo versions had the banner on some of the covers. My copy is mono, version two brackets, no banner.

Fake covers for this LP exist with no gatefold and the title on the front cover is: "Songs and Pictures of the Fabulous Beatles" rather than the authentic "Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles". The four drawings of the individual Beatles on the fakes is also very washed out.

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