Well not really, but sort of. There is a catch to be explained, so please read on.
Way back in 1973, I made the pilgrimage to New York City's Greenwich Village and took an armload of what I thought were some of the rarer Canadian Beatles albums and 45s along with me for trade purposes. A well known record dealer on Bleecker Street howled with laughter when I showed him the heavy bag of vinyl treasures that I had lugged all the way from Ottawa. In a snarky Brooklyn accent, he told me that "Canadian Beatles records are not worth anything ...". Well I really did not want to carry them all the way back to Canada, so reluctantly and sadly, I handed them over to those Village oldies shops at ridiculously low prices. Gone were minty copies of some great and rare Beatles and Beatles solo discs like Life With The Lions, Very Together, This Is Where It Started, My Bonnie etc.
That Bleecker Street experience of loss has lingered with me over the years, and today I am very much an evangelical proponent of the original Canadian vinyl first pressings as being among the best sounding records ever manufactured in the world. Especially where The Beatles are concerned. Hence this web site. And now in the last few years, there has been some acknowledgement that the original Canadian pressed vinyl discs from the 1960s are indeed collectable - especially when they have the provenance of having once belonged to the mighty Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aka "the CBC" for those outside Canada.
Fast forward 40 years. Now last year I was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, one of our greatest Canadian cities, and visited a few of the terrific new and used record shops there. My good buddy Scott told me exactly where to go for the best vinyl. To my amazement, I saw a batch of rare 1960s jazz Lp records with the stamp " Property Of CBC Record Library" adorning their jackets - front and back. Now that is "provenance", as these were the very records that the CBC played on air when they sampled tracks for their various CBC programs starting in the 1950s. Way Kool with a capital K.
So I asked the Winnipeg record shop owner about them, and he told me that the CBC in Winnipeg was disposing of its own record library, starting in early 2012. A few days later, I found out the added info that the CBC was in fact centralizing its record library in Toronto and was rationalizing it's libraries in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal and Halifax, with the idea of having one BIG library. Saving money. Going digital. That made sense to me. But it was sad at the same time to think that these vinyl artefacts were being divested by our national broadcaster.
Other record collectors have subsequently come across similar divestments in Vancouver, Toronto , Montreal and Halifax. Pop records, folk records, soundtracks, jazz records, spoken word, country and western, bird sounds, locomotive sounds, and on and on. And apparently the jazz album collection in Winnipeg was particularly impressive; the result of many years of diligent acquisitions by CBC during the best years of Blue Note and Columbia for example.
With Beatles in mind, we here at Capitol6000 have kept all eyes open and have spotted a few of these original CBC "Beatles" discs offered up for sale in recent months. These have been offered up for sale all across our great country, both far and wide, "as it happens" (a great CBC program by the way)…
For the albums, the letters CBC are heavily stamped / embossed right into the record labels. There are usually date stamps on both the labels and jackets. By examining the records themselves, we can pretty much determine to the month when they were acquired for their libraries. From what we have seen so far, the CBC took great care of their records.
This is Canada's history on vinyl and it is being sold off, one disc at a time. Perhaps we have only seen a subset of their Beatles discs so far. With at least 5 record libraries being whittled down to one, it is possible that there are multiple copies of some discs.
So far we have seen an early 1970s stereo copy of Yesterday & Today from the Halifax library, a Graham Newton mastered early mono 1965 copy of Beatles 65 from the Toronto library dated from April 1967, and a post 1966 brackets copy of Long Tall Sally from the Toronto library dated July 1969. This last one was logged in to the CBC record library just as Apollo 11 was landing on the moon ! From the Vancouver library we have seen 72101 From Me To You, 72159 Do You Want To Know A Secret, and 72162 Sie Liebt Dich (2 copies). All of these were 1964 copies. Some of the dealers who bought these records have attempted to remove the stickers, and some have not. The Vancouver copy of 72101 had the sticker removed before the dealer realized that maybe the sticker added some value from it's heritage. Most of the Vancouver CBC Beatles singles appear to have been acquired in the summer of 1964 just after Beatlemania hit these shores.
Well this is the twenty-first century last time we checked, and the CBC is moving ahead in the digital world in a very big way and I guess it has never been better. Surely the CBC has the entire Beatles catalogue in re-mastered digital format, so their old vinyl discs are no longer needed.
It is nice to remember all of the hard working folks at the CBC many years ago who maintained top-notch record libraries in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Filing new releases, pulling out discs upon request for on-air programming, colour coding the metal racking and shelving, etc. CBC hosts like Glenn Gould were known to browse the grey-metal racks of records at the old CBC building at 354 Jarvis Street in Toronto. Gould wrote and produced many shows for CBC radio and television. Perhaps he popped in there frequently to check out the CBC's Petula Clark collection. Who knows. Oddly, Clyde Gilmour was never a client of the CBC record library back in the 60s, 70s, 80 and even 90s, although today the Toronto Public Library maintains Clyde's personal collection of vinyl records that he used as the source for his long running and very popular CBC weekly radio show Gilmour's Albums. That is a nice touch. Gilmour's Albums was an audio treat every week but now we have new shows like the Vinyl Tap and Saturday Night Blues to keep us musically happy. And we do very much appreciate those radio shows and they must have to access the consolidated CBC record library from time to time.
Now a few years back I was told the story about the BIG MOVE of the record library from the old building at 354 Jarvis Street to the new building at 250 Front Street in Toronto. There were two "career record librarians" at the old building and they had to arrange to pack up and move all of the records. This at a time perhaps when they were retiring from the CBC. At the time of the move in the 1990s (circa 1992 and afterwards), many old records and tapes were discarded into containers (78s, 45s and open reels) and lots of those ended up at the Goodwill Store at Adelaide and Jarvis. Some of us lucky ducks found some real gems there, including a complete 1-hour taped episode of "The Action Set" from 1967 hosted by Al Maitland which featured a preview of the new Beatles album Sergeant Pepper in glorious MONO. Nice.
This large-scale music divestiture that began in 2012, of at least 4 huge record collections from the CBC libraries across Canada, into the used record marketplace, was perhaps the "Haley's Comet" for record collectors in Canada. We can't wait to see what else will turn up. We will extend our vigil and would very much appreciate any updates or details on interesting finds. Of course, these will be noted in the Recent Sales postings.
But today we will take a few long overdue moments to salute all of those wonderful CBC record librarians who have worked, past and present, at the various CBC record libraries across Canada. Their legacy is a great stack of vinyl discs that are uniquely denoted by their CBC stamps, CBC labels, and their original CBC library dates. All filed properly, and neatly, and ready to be placed upon turntables at any time.