When I was studying at university in the early 1970s, one of my hobbies was to read the Rock And Roll press, and one of my favourite magazines back then was Crawdaddy. My brother had turned me on to that cool magazine in the late 1960s. It was a great way to find out what was really going on.
In the March 1974 issue of Crawdaddy, there was a terrific interview with John Lennon (recommended reading!). In several of the pictures, John appeared in a Los Angeles garden wearing a button that carried the slogan "Back To MONO". This was at a time when young adults were listening to their stereo albums on headphones, and Pink Floyd had just produced their magnum opus "Dark Side Of The Moon".
As it turns out, that little button carried a statement that resonated with me and I admired it. I was used to hearing singles, EPs and albums in both mono and stereo formats. So I looked for one of those little red buttons, and that took me ages, but I finally found one. It was the symbol of a small trend that was cool.
Record buyers like myself started wondering about mono versus stereo records in our collections, and it was around this same time that we began to look backwards at the evolution of Rock And Roll. Nuggets was a very cool "garage rock" package in 1973 that was a mono-fiesta. Even in the early to mid 1970s, British groups like Dr. Feelgood were issuing their albums in mono to capture a better, rawer sound. Punk groups that emerged in the 1970s cared little for stereo effects. But before that, there was a mono "Instant Karma" in 1970 with Phil Spector producing. MONO was directly associated with Phil Spector and his Wall Of Sound.
MONO recordings died a commercial death in early 1968 in North America. Death occurred a little later in England, as there were mono White Albums issued in November 1968, and mono copies of the Yellow Submarine album shortly after that. There were also mono editions of Let It Bleed by the Rolling Stones on Decca.
But in early 1968, the large North American record companies must have been pushing to stop pressing mono albums as it was simply more expensive to create two versions (eg mono and stereo) of each new album that was released. This was getting more expensive at a time when teens had finally migrated to the LP format in 1967, and were buying more albums than they ever had before. The Top 50!
Here are more than 50 LPs that were issued in Canada in MONO that will be of interest for record collectors as they are different mixes from their stereo counterparts.
The Beach Boys - Per Sounds, Smiley Smile, Wild Honey
The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, Meet The Beatles, Second Album
The Pink Floyd - Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Manfred Mann - Soul Of Mann, Mann Made Hits
Paul Jones - Privilege
Peter And Gordon - Knight In Rusty Armour, In London For Tea
Dave Clark Five - You've Got What It Takes, Everybody Knows
The Yardbirds - Little Games
The Who - Sell Out
The Doors - first album, Strange Days (mono Canada LP not confirmed)
Reprise (Compo and Warner Brothers)
Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced?, Axis Bold As Love
London / Deram
The Rolling Stones - Flowers, Their Satanic Majesties Request
John Mayall - Bluesbreakers, A Hard Road, Blues Crusade
Procol Harum - first self-title album on Deram
Cat Stevens - Matthew And Son, New Masters
Moody Blues - Knights In White Satin (Canada mono LP not confirmed)
Fontana / Mercury
Manfred Mann - As Is (mono)
Troggs - Love Is All Around (Canada mono LP not confirmed)
The Kinks - Something Else By The Kinks (very rare in mono)
The Byrds - Younger Than Yesterday, Notorious Byrd Brothers (Canada mono LP not confirmed)
Bob Dylan - John Wesley Harding (Canada mono LP not confirmed)
Simon And Garfunkel -Parsley,Sage,Rosemary & Thyme, Bookends (mono LP not confirmed)
Miles Davis - ESP, Miles Smiles
The Hollies - Evolution, King Midas In Reverse
Donovan - Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow
MGM / Quality
The Animals - Winds Of Change, The Twain Shall Meet (Canada LP not confirmed)
Soundtrack - Blow Up (with Herbie Hancock)
Monkees - Birds, Bees and The Monkees
Jefferson Airplane - Take Off, Surrealistic Pillow
Paupers - Magic People
The Velvet Underground - And Nico, White Light, White Heat (self titled, mono cover exists but has gold foil stereophonic sticker and stereo disc inside - mega rare)
Warner Brothers (Compo and Warner Bros.)
Grateful Dead - first album
Kensington Market - Avenue Road
Cream - Fresh Cream (Musimart edition)
Gord Lightfoot- Did She Mention My Name?
Easybeats - Falling Off The Edge Of The World (mono LP not confirmed)
Traffic - Reaping
Any help to confirm the TBD mono releases (Byrds, Dylan etc.) listed above would be appreciated.
While we lamented the loss of the dual audio formats in 1968, it has created a niche for record collectors, and some of the very last issue mono LPs from 1968 are well worth hunting down.
This past weekend I was delighted to find out something new that I did not already know. Hooray!
And this happened TWICE!
Well, we are getting close to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th !), so I thought we would do something "green" for this month. And Randy Bachman always says on the closing of his great weekly CBC radio show, the Vinyl Tap, to "do something green". So right Randy, here we go!
Last week, I was rummaging through some records at an antiques market and found a nice copy of the 1967 album by The Shadows called "Shadows '67". An album well worth looking for.
The seller wanted a reasonable $10 for it. While I already had the album in my own collection (it was issued in both mono and stereo in September 1967), I took the extra time to examine the disc inside and to my surprise it was a green target label issue from late 1969 or possibly early 1970. This Compo press was made around the same time as the green target re-issue pressings of Pink Floyd's "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" and "A Saucerful of Secrets", and the Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
"Shadows '67" was an odd choice for a green target label reissue, as it was not a big seller for Capitol the first time around in the fall of 1967. I guess somebody at Capitol wanted it re-issued. The other Compo "re-issues" from the same time included "The Hits Of The Yardbirds" , "The Hits Of The Dave Clark Five", and "Hits Of The Hollies". There were also RCA pressed green target label re-issues around this time including Ron Goodwin's "Elizabethan Serenade". All of the green target reissues were stereo only, as the mono format had been phased out in 1968.
For hard core label-ologists, you can clearly see from the above two label images that there were two entirely different sets of labels used by Compo. Some are "olive green" and some were "lime green". Why do these label differences show up on many Capitol LPs from the period ? And to confuse things even further, they show up on both Compo and RCA pressings. Another area for collectors to explore!
I know of some collectors who take digital pictures of the labels, and others who carry a magnifying glass to get a closer look at label specifics. These are great tools for the hard core label hunters!
A fellow collector from British Columbia recently came across a nice mono copy of "Stay With The Hollies" that was still in the original tight shrink wrap. He told me that when he checked the near mint disc inside, he discovered that it was a "brackets copy", with brackets around the word Canada on the label perimeter, indicating that this was a later mono pressing by RCA Victor, possibly from 1967. I for one, was not aware of this later pressing. Images of the label will follow soon.
If you encounter "something new about something old (and cool)", please let us know by emailing us at "firstname.lastname@example.org".
"Interesting! The article prompted me to pull out my green targets and have a look. Here's the results:
Meet The Beatles - RCA / olive
Second Album - RCA / olive
Something New - RCA / olive
Early Beatles - RCA / olive
Beatles '65 - RCA / lime
Beatles VI - RCA / lime
Help - Compo / lime
Rubber Soul - Compo / lime
Yesterday & Today - Compo / lime
Yesterday & Today - Keel / lime
Revolver - Compo / lime
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Compo / olive (has odd cover with both cat. #'s on back)
Magical Mystery Tour - Compo / lime
I hadn't noticed the difference before, but when you lay the two side by side, it's quite obvious."
Early Beatles - olive RCA
Something New - olive RCA
Beatles 65 - olive RCA
Something New - Lime
Beatle VI - Lime
Beatles VI (gold stamp) - Lime
Help! - Lime
Rubber Soul - Lime
Yesterday and Today Compo - Lime
Yesterday And Today Keel - Lime
Pepper - Lime
Magical Mystery Tour - Lime
2nd Album - Lime
Early Beatles - Lime (maybe very slightly darker…)