The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (US) (UAL 3366) (monaural)

Is there a statute of limitations on posting for Thrifty Vinyl?  If so, I hope it’s greater than 37 years for that is when I made my first ever thrift store album purchase, which was at the Goodwill store on Gambier Street in Mount Vernon, Ohio for two bits [translation: 25 cents].  And this, battered but still in the collection, is the very record.

My dad and I used to cycle down to the Goodwill (or “Badwon’t” as my 7-year old self wittily recast it) most Saturdays; apart from loads of other singles (e.g. Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”) and albums (e.g. No Dice by Badfinger), I also bought a Beatles Flip Your Wig game which I still have.  I would always get a rush when I saw the familiar yellow and orange swirl of the 60s Capital 45s–even if all too often it was Al Martino. Several other memories present themselves.

  • I took this record into my third grade class to share my enthusiasm (some things never change) only to have the piss taken for showing excitement.  The teacher, Mr. Miller, was impressed.
  • After I’d had the record for a good few weeks, I remember calling my friend Paul Harris in a state of great agitation.  “I think I know what they mean by ‘Beatlemania’,”  I said breathlessly.  Begging him to come over, I played “Can’t Buy Me Love”, which was buried deep on side two and right before the guitar solo, a shriek from Paul McCartney. “There,” I exclaimed as if in revelation, “Beatlemania!”
  • Look closely on the back cover, a tentative mustache/sideburns combination is drawn on the bottom row middle George.  I simply couldn’t believe that that person and one on Sgt. Pepper were the same and tried to prove it to myself with a Bic ballpoint pen.
  • As a soundtrack, there are several instrumental versions of Beatle hits arranged by George Martin spread throughout the record.  I used these as background music for a production of John Updike’s A&P which I adapted and directed for a drama production when at Kenyon College.
  • When recording the debut in Nashville with the Haynes Boys in the mid-90s, I bought a t-shirt with the soundtrack album’s likeness at a downtown tourist trap. I was pleased to find it at all since it’s image had become largely superseded (rightly) by the British catalogue and associatied iconography.
Published in: on January 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm  Comments (8)  

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  1. Regarding 60’s US orange and yellow swirl Capitol labels:

    I’ve come across a fair few American 45’s in my time and whenever I see one I get pangs of envy, as unlike equivalent UK pressings they always seemed to have brightly coloured labels with eye-catching designs, that reflected the image of the post-war US of A as an apparent cultural paradise and the land of plenty.

    Despite it being the time of Beatle-mania and Swinging London, with very few exceptions all British 45’s in the 60’s were released with a sober monotone label. Perhaps not surprisingly, EMI (who had the lion’s share of the UK market at the time) were the worst offenders – at one point all their associate labels were pressed in the dullest of dull black: Columbia, HMV, Motown… not even the Beatles’ own label Parlophone was exempted! The other record company labels weren’t much better either: Decca being dark blue, CBS orange, Polydor red, etc.

    The accompanying generic record company sleeves were also usually equally dour, and unlike the US (or even other European countries that lagged far behind us in the pop stakes) they were never released in individually-designed picture sleeves (us Brits had to wait for the era of punk and the indie-DIY culture in the late 70’s for that to happen!)

    Perhaps it was a British “stiff-upper-lip” thing (you have to remember that record companies in Blighty were run by public schoolboys and toffs with brollies and bowler hats at the time), and maybe we still had the hangover of austerity and rationing in our drab monochrome land after WWII – something the Americans never had to worry about!

  2. Thoughtful comments, Wilberforce. After WWII, and certainly by the 1950s, Americans had money to spend, technology delivering a brave new world and much less Western history weighing down it’s artistic culture. A corresponding boldness throughout the graphic arts was reflecting this newfound American hegemony.

    With regard to the Beatles US catalogue, the black label/colour spectrum border label is likewise more arresting/richer looking than the Parlophone counterparts.

    Of course, Magical Mystery Tour apart, the programming US/UK discrepancies were a different matter….

  3. […] washed-out cover, definitely more Middle Earth that Outer Space.  Apropos Wilberforces’ comments on record labels, check this baby out.  Along with “Delirium”‘s […]

  4. And was it, or was it not, Apple that opened the floodgates interesting label-wise in the UK?

  5. Yes, the Apple label was probably the first British label that was dominated by a design or picture of some kind as opposed to a plain monotone or minor variation thereof, but i suppose when you’re the biggest band in the world and you start up your own label, you probably have some say in how it’s presented! It may have been visually striking, but due to the design the “A” side was actually quite difficult to read – you had to strain your eyes to see if it was a Beatles 45 as opposed to Mary Hopkin!

    However, the Beatles didn’t exactly open the floodgates in this respect. Perhaps the only label that really continued this initiative was the counter-culture/prog-heavy Vertigo, with their monochrome “swirl” design that was presumably designed to cause an actual state of vertigo when one watched it spinning around on the turntable (personally i always found it rather mesmerising). Although they eventually moved off monotone, the major UK labels certainly persisted with muted label designs throughout the 70’s, an example being Pye’s tasteful purple-merging-into-pink.

    Of course, by this time many American independent labels that were prevalent in the 50’s and 60’s with their fabulously eye-catching designs had either bitten the dust or had been swallowed up by the major conglomerates, which increased the homogeneous and conservative look of labels at that time. And also by then major US record companies had set up their own divisions in the UK (as opposed to licensing their recordings to indigenous labels), so there would be little if any disparity between their American and British pressings (the Warner Brothers “Burbank” design springs to mind). However, one peculiarly British anomaly (or at least non-American) was that many 45’s pressed in the 70’s didn’t actually have a label as such on them at all, instead a monotone design that was actually part of the vinyl, with the credits “etched on” – record companies that used this pressing technique included Polydor and the Phonogram group (that included the aforementioned Vertigo label – the swirl design had been put out to grass)

    As with picture sleeves, it took the advent of the punk/DIY culture in the UK to really kick-start the trend for interesting, offbeat, weird and wacky (and of course unique and peculiarly British) label designs, as epitomised by Stiff Records, perhaps the ultimate “indie” label.

    ps – princeasbo, please contact me directly through my own site thanks (i couldn’t find a way to contact you personally otherwise!), thanks

  6. Digging your biro skills, asbo.

    check this…

    • Nice one–that White Album is arguably better than the original. And what is it about the Flying Burrito Bros to make then serial targets?

      Wilberforce, the grass is always greener…. As a US teen, I coveted those etched 45s both for the etching and the smaller spindle hole, which is far more convenient. Ekolad tells me that, for the British collector (esp. of reggae), the large hole is the way to go, so to speak.

  7. What’s up, just wanted to tell you, I liked this post. It was funny.
    Keep on posting!

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