The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording VariationsVersion 2 compiled by Joseph Brennan
Notes on CD ReleasesFor the EMI recordings, the important CD releases are the CD for each original album, the two "Past Masters" CDs, the "1962-1966" and "1967-1970" collections, and the new-on-CD sets "Live at the BBC" and "Anthology" and the related CD singles. I use the shorthand "EMI single 1988" or 1989 to cover both the 3-inch singles (issued with different catalog numbers in the US and UK) and the 5-inch singles in the CD singles box. I don't mention the CD EP box except for songs unique to the EP set and the first appearance of the improved She Loves You. A John Lennon CD is mentioned for A Day in the Life with clean intro.
The "Live at the BBC" set is unusual in that it is all excerpts edited from radio programs, rather than songs that can be considered as units. I've made just one listing per original program, with a special format of sub-listing for each segment that was excerpted. Every one could be considered "edited" because it is an excerpt, but besides that, many songs may have been subject to some special treatment where there was talk overlapping the first or last notes, or where the best available source didn't catch the start or finish. Sound quality variations, even after processing, suggest some shows were recovered from more than one source, but little more can be said with certainty.
The "Anthology" set now adds many more recorded performances to the canon of legitimately released works, but almost all are home recordings, demos, outtakes, concerts or broadcasts, so I have taken care to mark them with some comment in square brackets to avoid any confusion with the standard versions of many of the same songs. Because some of these have had a long history on bootlegs, and occasionally are less historically authentic than the unedited bootleg versions, I've made some reference to their unauthorized prior appearances.
What label are the CDs on? Referring to a handy "Magical Mystery Tour" CD, I see on the CD itself a label showing the Parlophone logo on top, EMI listed several times as the holder of copyright and publication, and a small "manufactured by Capitol". On the exterior of the case, no label is clearly shown anywhere. I am listing the CDs as "EMI". The recordings are owned by EMI and released under some deal with Apple; I suppose they are all on Apple now, although Apple was not yet active again during the big CD reissue of 1987-1988, so it was not the original label for those.
The CD singles make available the mono mixes of all singles up to and including Get Back, some of which are not on the album CDs. Collectors without full vinyl holdings may therefore want most of the CD singles to get these mixes. The EP collection in a box repeats a lot of the same mono mixes, and is a source, however financially painful, for the "Long Tall Sally" and "Magical Mystery Tour" songs in mono.
"Abbey Road" was issued on CD in Japan in 1983 by Toshiba-EMI before the general CD release of the Beatles' albums worldwide. Despite its high value as a collectors' item, it is inferior to the more common CD, because it was made from an LP master Toshiba had. Because of that and its rarity (it was on sale for only 2 years), I don't list it.
The Hamburg recordings with Tony Sheridan in 1961 have been reissued numerous times on CD, just as they were on LP. The first collected, authentic release was "The Beatles' First", 1985, Polydor (Germany), which was reissued within months as "The Early Tapes", the title under which I list it. The catalog number was not changed, and the main change seems to have been replacing the original artwork that showed Ringo. It was preceded on CD by a bootleg of the "Savage Young Beatles" set that has been listed as legitimate in some places. Some of the songs have been issued elsewhere on other CDs, but the only thing you don't get on "The Early Tapes" is Ain't She Sweet in stereo, so that's the only song I've given more CD listings.
The Star-Club recordings of December 1962 have also turned up on CD, and so have even 12 of the so-called Decca Audition songs, though briefly. Since these are of pretty questionable legality, I have made my life easier by excluding them as bootlegs. Who has legal rights to release these?-- contractually, probably Polydor (via Bert Kaempfert Produktion) for anything in 1962 up to June, and definitely EMI for the Star-Club, but as with the BBC recordings, the owner of the recording and of the rights are different in both cases.