Saturday 10 February 2018

Past Masters - How it should have been

Past Masters

Disc 1
  1. Love Me Do 
  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 
  13. Matchbox 
  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 
  22. Rain 
  23. Penny Lane
  24. Strawberry Fields Forever

Disc 2
  1. All You Need Is Love
  2. Baby, You're a Rich Man
  3. Hello, Goodbye
  4. Magical Mystery Tour
  5. Your Mother Should Know
  6. I Am the Walrus
  7. The Fool on the Hill
  8. Flying 
  9. Blue Jay Way 
  10. Lady Madonna 
  11. The Inner Light 
  12. Hey Jude 
  13. Revolution 
  14. Get Back 
  15. Don't Let Me Down 
  16. The Ballad of John and Yoko 
  17. Old Brown Shoe 
  18. Across the Universe 
  19. Let It Be 
  20. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
Past Masters is a double-CD set containing all of The Beatles' recordings that had not otherwise been released on an album.

Originally released in 1988 as a two separate CDs, named Past Masters Volume One and Past Masters Volume Two, the collection was compiled by Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn at the time when the Beatles' albums were being prepared for CD in the mid-1980's.

Past Masters Volume 1

Owing to the band's policy of not releasing singles that had not already been released on an album, the compilation contains many of the band's most important recordings, including such tracks as She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Paperback Writer and Hey Jude. The collection consists of all of the Beatles' singles, including songs that had been released as alternative mixes or recordings for singles (eg Get Back, Revolution and Let It Be). It also includes three tracks recorded specifically for foreign markets (two of them in German), a track originally donated to a charity compilation album and all of the tracks from the Long Tall Sally EP.

The Long Tall Sally EP
contained the songs Long Tall Sally, I Call Your Name,
Slow Down and Matchbox

A decision had been taken by Apple at the time to standardise the Beatles' albums worldwide, using the original UK releases so that they were released as The Beatles had intended. In all, Lewisohn had a straightforward task - basically to compile all of the tracks that were not on a UK album into chronological order.

But then Apple made an odd decision. Somewhere down the line, someone decided that the US Magical Mystery Tourcompilation album should be integrated into the standard UK releases. The Magical Mystery Tour double EP had been released in the UK on 8 December 1967. It contained the songs
The Magical Mystery Tour EP
Side A
1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. Your Mother Should Know
Side B
1. I Am The Walrus
Side C
1. The Fool On The Hill
2. Flying
Side D
1. Blue Jay Way

But EPs were falling out of favour in the US, and Capitol, the Beatles' American label, opted to release Magical Mystery Tour as an album, filling it out with the Beatles' 1967 singles, the Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band era Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever, and All You Need Is Love/Baby You're A Rich Man, and UK Magical Mystery Tour era non-album single, Hello Goodbye, (the B-side, I Am The Walrus, was on the EP). The Magical Mystery Tour album was released in the US on 27 November 1967.

Fast forward to 1988, and this caused an odd anomaly on the Past Masters compilation, because there is a jarring change of style between 1966 B-side Rain and the next non-album single, 1968's Lady Madonna. This could easily have been prevented by moving the four tracks at the start of Volume Two (Day Tripper, We Can Work It Out, Paperback Writer and Rain to the end of Volume One).

But it would have been more in keeping with the spirit of the releases to have included all of The Beatles' 1967 non-album tracks, eg the US Magical Mystery Tour album.

There is also an argument to include the four new songs from the Yellow Submarine album, but as this is a UK album, it had a legitimate place in the release schedule.

There is perhaps a simple commercial reason for bringing the US Magical Mystery Tour compilation into the standardised discography: selling Past Masters Volume OnePast Masters Volume Two and Magical Mystery Tour will make more money for Apple than simply Past Masters Volume One and Past Masters Volume Two. But including the 1967 UK singles and EP in the set would have made it flow better as a compilation.

Nevertheless, technology has changed since the 1980s, and we have the ability to make our own compilations. A full track listing for Past Masters Discs One and Two is presented here. At 60:01 for Disc 1 and 70:08 for Disc 2, it fits comfortably on two CDs.

Feel free to include the four Yellow Submarine tracks - they fit neatly in between "Revolution" and "Get Back", but would extend the collection to three CDs. In the 21st century, with our MP3s, this doesn't really matter.

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