The Rubber Soul album was issued in both mono and stereo formats by Capitol Records of Canada Ltd. on Thursday, December 9th, 1965. Wow... that is now 47 years ago. Because the album was issued in 1965 for the annual holiday market back then we thought that it is timely to provide a short article about one interesting piece of Canadian "Rubber Soul" vinyl dating from March 1974. Many thanks to Canadian Beatles collector Randy Wolf for bringing this cool test pressing to our attention. But the best thing about this test pressing is that it's existence has solved another mystery: we now know the pressing company behind the "weird" green target Yesterday & Today album from 1968-1969 that was not pressed by RCA or Compo.
Randy Wolf is a Beatles collector in Canada and purchased a very cool white label test pressing of Rubber Soul in the late 1970s. Randy was lucky enough to find the record in a used record shop for the great price of $1.00. The album was priced that way because it had no jacket. Randy states that the date of "26/3/74" was written in pen on the Side 2 label. This indicates that the record was manufactured on March 26th., 1974. The white paper labels on both sides of the disc are the labels provided by the manufacturer "Keel Record Manufacturing Company Of Canada Ltd.".
The pressing ring on this album looks very similar to the Columbia records pressed in Canada at the time. The run-out (trail-off) areas show pn each side of the disc show the following etched into the vinyl:
Etched in A-side - ST-1-2424
Etched in B-side - ST-2-2442
Also stamped onto the vinyl record in tiny letters on both sides are the block letters " MASTERED BY CAPITOL". While the record is very interesting on its own, we need to go back nine years or more to see how Keel Records were to become involved in the pressing of Canadian Capitol Beatles albums.
A news item in the November 6th, 1965 edition of Billboard Magazine stated that Pickwick International had set up an operation in Canada and that they would be making their complete Pickwick 33 catalogue available for the first time. The operation would be based north-east of Toronto in Ajax, Ontario
From the outset, Keel Record Manufacturing Company Ltd, also located in Ajax, pressed records for Pickwick. Titles in the late 1965 and 1966 period included the following Design LPs which targeted a budget-conscious LP buyer who had no idea of what they were buying. This category sadly included parents who thought they were buying something cool for their kids (NOT):
DLP-181 - The Heart and Soul of Jan & Dean and Friends - Jan & Dean & Friends 
DLP-190 - Shindig - Various Artists 
DLP-191 - Hullabaloo - Various Artists 
DLP/SDLP-206 - Thunderball & Other Secret Agent Themes - Jazz All Stars 
DLP/SDLP-211 - Hullabaloo Au-Go-Go!!! - Various Artists 
DLP/SDLP-269 - Out of Sight! - Various Artists  (includes The Beachnuts with Lou Reed)
DLP/SDLP-272 - Groovy Greats - Various Artists 
Keel Record Manufacturing Ltd. was located at 460 Fairall Street in Ajax. Their details appeared in a late 1968 - early 1969 music industry survey of pressing plants which was the first ever survey of its type. Other pressing companies listed were RCA, Compo and Sparton. The Keel Records building is still there today.
Under a new 10-year arrangement signed in late 1966, Capitol of Canada started to distribute Pickwick/33 products in Canada and these included a line of budget priced Capitol albums. All of the Pickwick albums in the 1960s and early 1970s were pressed in Ajax, Ontario by Keel Record Manufacturing Ltd.
Starting in late 1966, Pickwick produced the following albums on their 3450 series in Canada. These budget albums carved up previously issued albums and were pressed in Ajax, Ontario by Keel and use Capitol black brackets labels with rainbow borders. The prefix PC indicated mono, PCS was used for stereo.
Capitol Pickwick Series PC/SPC-3450 - Frank Sinatra - The Nearness Of You (1966)
Capitol Pickwick Series PC/SPC-3451 - Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians - The Romantic Sound Of (1967)
Capitol Pickwick Series SPC-3452 - Frank Sinatra - Try A Little Tenderness (1967, stereo only)
Capitol Pickwick Series SPC-3453 - TBD (this number may not have been used)
Capitol Pickwick Series SPC-3454 - Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians - Some Enchanted Evening (1968, stereo only)
Capitol Pickwick Series SPC-3455 - Wayne Newton - Somewhere My Love (1968, stereo only)
Capitol Pickwick Series SPC-3456 - Frank Sinatra - Nevertheless I'm In Love With You(1968, stereo only)
Capitol Pickwick Series SPC-3457 - Frank Sinatra - Just One Of Those Things (1968, stereo only)
None of the jackets for the Pickwick Capitol Series LPs were manufactured by Capitol's normal jacket manufacturers. They used the suppliers that they had used for their Design albums starting in 1965.
The rainbow labels, however, are the same LP labels that were used by Compo and RCA during the period 1966-1969. They would have been shipped to Keel Records In Ajax by the same suppliers.
Capitol introduced the target logo in August 1969 as the replacement for the older "dome" logo. In the fall of 1969, Capitol began to look at their Beatles catalogue in Canada with a view to re-issuing albums in the back catalogue using the new Capitol logo. All LP labels were replaced with new green target labels. At this time in 1969, RCA, Compo, and Keel would have been supplied with the new label stock.
It is probable that Pickwick lobbied Capitol to issue a Beatles album on the Pickwick Capitol Series. Capitol would have declined the request in the end but perhaps Capitol had initially responded with Yesterday And Today as it had been their weakest selling Beatles album. Either way, it appears that Keel pressed up a number of green target copies of ST-2553 and even made a mistake on the catalogue number by dropping the stereophonic "S" and just using the T-2553 numbers on both Side 1 and Side 2 labels. They also used the mono etching numbers T-X-1-2553 and T-X-2-2553 rather than stereo ones. Oddly, they were sold in leftover Parr’s jackets and a special Pickwick jacket was never used. However, the fonts used are unique and that the feature that makes this a very collectible album.
It is possible that these Keel pressed albums were sold in Canada via the Columbia Record Club as the Capitol Of Canada Record Club ceased operations in 1970. Perhaps the Keel pressings of ST-2553 were intended for the Capitol Record Club and that fell through when the club was shut down. Or perhaps they were just an "odd lot" to test their capabilities for mainstream Capitol releases - and they failed the test. Either way, the Keel pressings are very rare indeed and only a handful of these discs have found their way into Beatles collections.
By early 1974, Capitol had started to look at in-sourcing the pressing of vinyl. In the early 1970s Capitol of Canada ended its outsourcing agreements with Compo (Cornwall) and RCA (Smiths Falls). They were planning to do the pressing themselves at their Mississauga facilities. By early 1974, Capitol had started to look at in-sourcing the pressing of vinyl in detail and one of the options presented to them was to have the pressing done by Keel records in Ajax. Keel would have presented a bid to Capitol.
So now we are back to Randy Wolf's test pressing of Rubber Soul. This stereo test pressing would be from that time in 1974 when Capitol was looking at new equipment etc to purchase. The stamper from Capitol would have been used to press the Rubber Soul test disc. That is why it says "Mastered By Capitol" in the run out area of Randy's disc.
Capitol could then evaluate the quality of the Keel pressing service via such a sample. They would have also tested their own in-house abilities to create a disc from a US master before the cut over to their own new equipment.
It took a couple of years before the process was complete, and they were pressing their own 45s in 1976 and LPs is 1977 at their own Mississauga facilities. It appears that they briefly contracted with Keel Records of Toronto in this process.
In my book "The Beatles Canadian Discography - Part 3" (Hemmingsen Publishing, 2011) on page 38, it was surmised that this green target pressing was made by Columbia Records of Canada because of the similar pressing ring. It now appears probable that the album was in fact manufactured by Keel Records sometime in the fall of 1969 or even as late as early 1970. As seen from the directory of the time, Columbia Records was not offering pressing services to other companies at this time.
The Keel Records pressings from the 1967-1970 period, especially the Frank Sinatra albums in the series, exhibit a distinct lack of overall quality compared to the RCA and Compo pressings of that time. It is easy to see that they made mistakes with label copy etc. as they were a smaller company.
It is possible that Keel pressed Beatles records for Capitol between 1974 and 1977. But we do know that they were pressing albums for Capitol to distribute as early as late 1966. Any further information would be appreciated.
Many thanks to Randy Wolf, Serge Pelletier, Gilles Valiquette, Brian Schofield, and Gilles Pepin for their great background information which was used in this article.￼