Today, Monday, November 25th, 2013 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the album "Beatlemania ! With The Beatles" in Canada. On this day 50 years ago, the Beatles' very first North American LP was issued by Capitol Records of Canada. The album's title actually pre-dated the arrival of Beatlemania in North America by almost 3 months.
Here are the Top 10 things you need to know about this iconic Canadian Beatles LP on its 50th. birthday.
1. The Capitol T-6051 album was in fact the very first Beatles album to be issued in North America.
2. It was in reality the second Beatles album recorded for EMI, and featured all new material. The album was a huge advance over its British predecessor, Please Please Me (Parlophone UK, March 22nd, 1963).
3. The Beatlemania! With The Beatles album was identical in track listing to the British release "With The Beatles", which had been issued in England on Friday, November 22nd, just three days before.
4. Paul White and his team at Capitol had gone to exceptional effort to rush release the LP for Canada.
5. The LP was manufactured in Smiths Falls, Ontario by RCA Victor, under contract to Capitol. The album jackets used front slicks manufactured by Parrs on Yonge Street in Toronto. Some initial pressings from November 1963 used a very heavy gauge vinyl and feature a "deep groove" pressing that is noticeably louder. These early pressings are "loud cut" versions.
6. The album was only ever issued for the Canadian market in monophonic, and a stereophonic version was never issued during the 1960s.
7. The album would become the second most popular Canadian Beatles album during the life of the Beatles. It was only outsold in the 1960s by its successor album "Twist And Shout" (Capitol T-6054) which oddly contained earlier material.
8. The cover was modified with the addition of tabloid-style quotes, but otherwise the liner notes and packaging were the same as the British Parlophone "With The Beatles" LP.
9. Capitol created their own single from the LP, "Roll Over Beethoven / Please Mister Postman" (Capitol 72133) and thousands of copies were shipped to the USA in the wake of their appearances on Ed Sullivan.
10. When The Beatles appeared at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on Monday, September 7th, 1964, Paul White and three other Capitol executives (Geoffrey Racine, Taylor Campbell, Edward Leetham) presented the Beatles with a special award for outstanding Canadian sales of the 1963 Beatlemania ! With The Beatles album.
So then, a very Happy 50th. Birthday to the Beatles very first North American album !
The forthcoming (fully illustrated) book by Beatles Canadian Discography author Piers Hemmingsen titled "The Beatles In Canada - The Origins Of Beatlemania", is scheduled for release in early 2014.
It won't be long ! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah ...
The brand new issue of the British Beatles Fan Club Magazine (issue No. 49, November 2013) has a 4-page article detailing the only known production Canadian Mono Butcher Album from June 1966. The article was written in conjunction with the owner of the album and tells the story about how this album escaped the clutches of the order to destroy all of the banned covers that had been manufactured in Canada. The article expands on the incredible 1966 story that was originally documented in the Beatles Canadian Discography books and also in the new Variations 1 book. This is probably Canada's rarest Beatles album, and it has been in the hands of its original owner since June 1966.
The November 2013 issue of the magazine can be ordered individually from the web site:
This article was written earlier this year and has been published as an exclusive for BBFC magazine subscribers. Some of you may know that I have been an occasional contributor to the British Beatles Fan Club magazine over the last few years, and some of those articles have also ended up on the Capitol 6000 web site. And yes, people still do buy Beatles magazines and this one is one of the very best we can recommend as it has some great Canadian content !
On November 11, 2013, Canadian fans were treated with a bunch of "new" BBC-material items. Indeed, the new BBC album volume 2 was released on the CD format in all good Canadian retail stores. New albums are usually in on tuesdays here, but the new Beatles albums were made available on monday, to follow the November 11 release date. LPs of the album seem to have been made available only the next day in many of the stores. A remastered vinyl pressing of BBC volume 1 is also announced, but has the hypothetical date of November 25 tagged to it in the record store computers in Québec City. This still needs to be confirmed. Furthermore, even though the title on the CD cover remains the same, the Beatles website seems to have renamed the LP album to "On Air, The Beatles Live At The BBC vol 1"; will the cover be different for LPs? Probably not, and the name might simply be a mistake or a new way of cataloging it at Apple.
The same website announced a few weeks ago, that early clients who ordered their copy from them would receive a promo EP with their brand new album. As it seems, some HMV stores around England and Canada also gave out these EPs to their first few lucky clients. London UK's Oxford store reportedly gave out 300, while HMV stores visited here seemed to have more in the lines of 10-15 copies each. It is our (subjective) estimation that maybe around 500 copies were made available in Canada, but this also would need to be confirmed. The 5 song EP was made in both the 7 inch vinyl record and the CD-EP formats, although it seems the giveaways were only vinyl. A 14-track CD sampler also exists for those hardcore collectors out there.
The new album was also accompanied by the remastered version of the first BBC album from 19 years ago (yikes!). The cover is black and white instead of the classy brown coloured cover from 1994. As mentioned previously, this will also be available on vinyl in a few days. Capitol/Universal offers the CD albums in either separate volumes, or a cool box set with a slip case featuring both the covers side by side.
The promo EP as well as the LPs were imported from Europe (pressed in the EU) as Canada does not press vinyl for the Capitol catalog anymore.
CDs on the other hand feature a US cover with Canadian pressed discs, just like the previously released albums form the remastered series.
It is not known yet if the CD EP and the 14-track promo sampler was also pressed in Canada, or if these were only available as imports. While the CD EP could possibly be pressed domestically, it is more likely that the sampler was imported from either the USA or the EU.
From time to time, we like to focus on the packaging, especially when it is unique and pioneering in nature. Packaging has had a lot to do with the marketability of records over the years.
The 1960s were just underway and some record companies like Capitol were looking way beyond the modern age of the mid-century. A group of marketing folks, along with a special group of "boffins" (engineers!), were huddled together and they were working on an entirely new packaging concept for the higher end stereo albums produced by the large American record companies. The concept was simple, what new album packaging could be made from space age materials ? Moulded plastic was the answer. It was already being used in spacecraft, new cars, TV sets, radios, record players, and toys.
Above all, it was intended to be a packaging innovation. The moulded plastic case was designed to hold a vinyl album securely and there was a hinged plastic outer cover to protect the vinyl inside. The hinges were on the right hand side. The case had a small plastic spindle to hold the record and the Capitol dome logo was moulded into the plastic backing at the bottom right hand corner. The US patent numbers listed on the booklet inside are 2,848,106 and 2,785,797.
It is not known who actually created the plastic cases, but it is probable that they were proposed by an American supplier and not by Capitol's in-house personnel. Capitol may have come up with the design, but that background is not known at this time. In any event, the design was cool and was well suited to the contemporary designs found in the listening lounge of any North American Atomic ranch bungalow!
The designers came up with a novel plastic case and it was presented to management for approval. The green light for the new plastic packaging was duly given by the bosses at the Capitol tower in Los Angeles, and in the late fall of 1961, Capitol USA and Capitol of Canada introduced a series of specially recorded stereophonic albums for the growing market of "stereo buffs" who could afford high-end stereo equipment, and who wanted a thrilling "wide stereo" sound from their Hi-Fi investment. These new albums would be shipped in the new moulded plastic cases.
Four albums of specially recorded music were prepared for the series and one additional album was compiled from the series itself.
Capitol STAC-1635 - Van Alexander And His Orchestra - Swing! Staged For Stereo!
Capitol STAC-1636 - Henri Rose And Bobby Stevenson - Steinways! Staged For Stereo!
Capitol STAC-1637 - The Mallet Men - Percussion! Staged For Stereo!
Capitol STAC-1638 - Various Artists - Highlights! Staged For Stereo!
Capitol STAC-1639 - Norrie Paramor And His Orchestra - Strings! Staged For Stereo!
In the USA, monophonic versions of the albums were also produced and the album title wording was changed on each of these from "Staged For Stereo" to "Staged For Sound". They also used the T prefix instead of ST. Some promo copies were also produced with the PRO prefix and promo numbers. To date, no Canadian mono editions have surfaced but it is possible that some were pressed here in Canada by RCA. Not all stereo albums in the series in the USA used the plastic jewel cases. Perhaps Capitol was not fully committed to the project ?
The Canadian discs were pressed by RCA at Smiths Falls, Ontario in limited quantities. The specially prepared plastic cases were shipped up from the USA. The booklets were also printed in the USA. The booklets are very interesting because they have diagrams that show which instruments are used on each of the left and right channels. It is estimated that only 1000 of each album title were pressed in Canada. These deluxe LP packages would have been sold at the high end audio shops across Canada.
Starting in the late 1950s, Capitol USA was also selling their own line of high-end stereo record players. In 1961, the US retailers who were selling this equipment were probably also selling the “Staged For Stereo!” series of Capitol albums in their special grey plastic cases. These Capitol stereo record players were not available for sale in Canada.
The "jewel case" concept would be used again in the 1980s for Compact Discs. Now just imagine if Capitol had stayed the course with this type of packaging in 1961. The booklets were a great idea for sure, but perhaps the whole plastic case was just too heavy and bulky to be used for all Capitol album products. The case was much thicker and heavier than a regular LP jacket. Another drawback was that record buyers could not add written notes to the jacket, just the booklet.
These oddball plastic cases can be found in the usual second-hand, antique and junk shops that we all love to look in when we are searching for rare records. The fact that they carry the Capitol logo makes them interesting, and they can be used to display any 1960s Capitol LP by The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, The Beach Boys or even Al Martino ! But they were only ever originally issued for the Staged For Stereo series of LPs. So please don't be fooled if you see them offered for sale with other Capitol albums inside.
My personal favourite is the stereo LP by The Mallet Men. The stereo separation on this disc is awesome. The disc was pressed using Scranton metal parts and was packaged with the plastic case and booklet.
Above all, the effort taken with the graphics, sound and packaging make the albums in this cool series highly desirable artifacts indeed. So kudos to the unsung geniuses at Capitol USA who dreamed up the series way back in 1961. Any further information about the origins of these Capitol plastic LP cases would be very much appreciated.