The Story of the Beatles’ Closet-Cleaning ‘Hey Jude’ LP
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As the Beatles were winding down their time together, there were still some songs that their U.S. label, Capitol, had never put on an album. To that end, Hey Jude was released on Feb. 26, 1970.
By the time Capitol realized they could make a profit on the Beatles, the group had already released two albums and a bunch of singles. In an attempt to catch up, which wasn’t helped by the Beatles prolific output in their early days, Capitol fashioned new records by taking some of the group’s recent songs and combining them with leftover tracks. It wasn’t until 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that Beatles albums included the exact same tracks on both sides of the Atlantic.
However, a handful of cuts remained, and Hey Jude served as a repository of sorts. The record is sequenced chronologically, with “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “I Should Have Known Better” kicking things off. Both songs had appeared on the soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night, but that album was released on United Artists, not Capitol. “Paperback Writer” and its B-side, “Rain,” got placed on an LP for the first time, as did “Lady Madonna.”
The record also included the group’s most recent non-LP single, “The Ballad of John and Yoko” and its flip “Old Brown Shoe,” and “Don’t Let Me Down,” the “Get Back” B-side. But the LP’s main selling points were the title track, which had spent a record nine weeks at No. 1 in fall 1968, and the song it was paired with, “Revolution.”
Still, even in their attempts to rectify this oversight, the label erred. Three of the earliest Beatles songs that hadn’t appeared on a Capitol album — “There’s a Place,” “From Me to You” and “Misery” — were omitted, as were a couple of B-sides, “I’m Down” and “The Inner Light,” plus the German version of “She Loves You,” “Sie Liebt Dich.” With Hey Jude‘s running time at a little more than 32 minutes, there was no reason to exclude these six songs, which totaled 13 minutes. So while the quality of music was up to the Beatles’ incredibly high standards, Capitol’s haphazard approach remained frustrating.
Capitol would eventually get around to releasing the five English-language cuts over the next 10 years on such compilations as Rock and Roll Music and Rarities. When the Beatles’ catalog was first issued on CD in 1987 using only the British album titles and sequences, their non-LP songs were compiled in a two-volume set called Past Masters which rendered Hey Jude and those later collections redundant.
However, there is one aspect of the record that remains historically relevant: Its front and back cover photos were taken at John Lennon’s Tittenhurst Park estate on Aug. 22, 1969 — the Beatles’ last-ever shoot.
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