The U.S. album Introducing The Beatles (aka Introducing…The Beatles) will be the subject of this second installment of the Collector’s Corner.
When The Beatles released their first single, “Love Me Do” b/w “P.S. I Love You,” in the U.K. in October of 1962, it went on to be a top 20 hit. That was one thing, but can you imagine the excitement when on November 26, 1962 after recording the two tracks for their follow-up single, producer George Martin predicted it would go all the way to number one. The “Please Please Me” b/w “Ask Me Why” single did just that on the British charts, reaching the top spot in Melody Maker on March 2, 1963. It also reached number one on the New Musical Express and Disc charts, and number two on the Record Retailer charts. Since Record Retailer is recognized today as being the British standard, “Please Please Me” was left off of the hits compilation CD of Beatles #1′s called, One, released in November of 2000.
In America, EMI offered the “Please Please Me” single to Capitol Records (a company owned by EMI) in January 1963, but Capitol declined, and the rights to the two songs ended up with a much smaller label known as Vee-Jay Records. Vee-Jay released the single and entered into an agreement that eventually gave them the rights to the first 16 tracks released by The Beatles in the U.K. – specifically the 14 tracks from their first English LP, also titled Please Please Me, and the two tracks from the follow-up single “From Me To You” b/w “Thank You Girl.”
On February 11, 1963, The Beatles recorded an incredible 10 songs and supplemented them with the 4 songs from their first two singles, in order to complete this first U.K. album, Please Please Me. By April or early May 1963, Vee-Jay was in possession of the stereo and mono masters for these songs as well as “From Me To You” and “Thank You Girl” (both recorded on March 5, 1963), which they released as a follow-up to the “Please Please Me” single during the first week of May 1963.
Vee-Jay’s plans to release the Please Please Me album were altered since the norm in America was for albums to only contain around 12 songs and there was 14 on the British LP. Possibly since the “Please Please Me” single did not chart, the decision was made to drop it’s two songs from the line-up. The running order of the album was otherwise left the same as the U.K. album. Paul McCartney’s count-in at the intro of “I Saw Her Standing There” was truncated (except for the “four!”) as it was thought to not be intended as an actual part of the song. Since the title song had been removed, a new album title was necessary and Introducing The Beatles was chosen – an apt title considering it was the groups first U.S. LP. Initial plans were to release the album in July 1963 and preparations were made to do that, but that is not what happened. When it was discovered that Vee-Jay President, Ewart Abner, was using company funds to cover gambling debts, a management shake-up ensued, and one of the consequences was canceling the release of Introducing The Beatles, along with a few other albums.
Since Vee-Jay was struggling with a large amount of debt by the summer of 1963, the company ignored it’s obligation to pay the royalties owed for the sales of it’s two Beatles singles. After all, it wasn’t like The Beatles were a very high priority in America at this time, so Vee-Jay execs were more focused on the important stuff. Consequently, EMI affiliate, Transglobal, declared Vee-Jay’s contract with them null and void on August 8, 1963. By December of 1963, when Capitol announced it was going to do a full scale promotional campaign for The Beatles, Vee-Jay was desperate for cash. Fully aware that it meant some legal troubles afterward, Vee-Jay released Introducing The Beatles around January 10, 1964, which was 10 days before Capitol released their first Beatles album Meet The Beatles!
The first bit of legal trouble however was not directly from EMI/Transglobal, but from Beechwood Music. Beechwood held the U.S. publishing rights for “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You,” and furthermore were a subsidiary of Capitol Records. Naturally they refused to allow Vee-Jay a license, especially since the two songs had not been previously released in the U.S. A restraining order was issued to stop distribution of the album, and in response Vee-Jay instead reconfigured the record by removing “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” and replacing them with the other two previously deleted tracks, “Please Please Me” and “Ask Me Why.” The initial version of Introducing The Beatles with “Love Me Do” is now termed ‘version 1′ of the record and the reconfigured album that instead includes “Please Please Me” is referred to as ‘version 2′. The version 2 copies made it into the stores on around February 10, 1964. There were also a few version 1 albums deceptively included in version 2 jackets, to avoid the suspicion of breaching the restraining order.
Here is the track listing for Versions 1 & 2:
Side 1: “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Misery,” “Anna (Go To Him),” “Chains,” “Boys,” “Love Me Do”
Side 2: “P.S. I Love You,” “Baby It’s You,” “Do You Want To Know A Secret,” “A Taste Of Honey,” “There’s A Place,” “Twist And Shout”
Side 1: “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Misery,” “Anna (Go To Him),” “Chains,” “Boys,” “Ask Me Why”
Side 2: “Please Please Me,” “Baby It’s You,” “Do You Want To Know A Secret,” “A Taste Of Honey,” “There’s A Place,” “Twist And Shout”
Needless to say, there was a big court battle over Vee-Jay’s right to issue The Beatles on record. In the end, the court ruled that Vee-Jay would be allowed to continue to release the 16 songs it controlled in any configuration, until October 15, 1964, at which time it would relinquish all rights over this material to Capitol. By this time, Introducing The Beatles had sold 1.3 million mono copies and 41,000 stereo copies. Since only about 3% of these records were in stereo, these copies are much more rare than their mono counterparts. Introducing The Beatles stalled at number 2 due (held out by Meet The Beatles!) on the Billboard and Cash Box album charts and managed to top the Record World album chart.
Vee-Jay did exercise their rights to the songs while they had the chance and repackaged Introducing The Beatles twice before the October 15 deadline. The first time introduced the LP as Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles. The album jacket had a gatefold cover with lots of pictures and information about each member of the band. The record inside was a copy of version 2 of Introducing The Beatles and still labeled as such. There was also a repackaging called The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons, which included a version 2 Introducing The Beatles album as well as a Four Seasons Vee-Jay compilation titled Golden Hits of the Four Seasons. The gatefold jacket of this configuration invited the listener to be the “judge and jury” on which band was the best.
Giving six months for supplies of Introducing The Beatles to dwindle in the stores, Capitol put out it’s own collection of all but 3 of the tracks previously on Introducing The Beatles, calling their album The Early Beatles. It was released on March 22, 1965. The songs left out of this collection were “Misery,” “There’s A Place” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” “Misery” and “There’s A Place” did receive separate Capitol releases in 1965 as part of Capitol’s Starline singles series. They never appeared on a Capitol album until the 1980 compilation The Beatles Rarities. “I Saw Her Standing There” was already on the Capitol album Meet The Beatles!
Version 1: The front covers of the version one LPs use the same photograph (credited to photographer Angus McBean, who also shot the Please Please Me album cover) that appears on The Beatles Hits EP in the U.K. For the cover slick of the album, the photograph is cropped just below Paul’s hands (just above his hands on the stereo cover seen in the photo at the top of this article) and the negative is reversed. Stereo copies of the album have a white banner across the top of the jacket containing in bold all capital gray letters ‘STEREOPHONIC’ (again see top photo). Some copies have the words ‘Printed in U.S.A.’ on the front. There are 3 variations on back covers:
1) Ad-Back: This back cover has no information about the music included with the record. Instead there are photo miniatures of 25 other Vee-Jay albums. It has a heading across the top that reads ‘Other Fine Albums Of Significant Interest’, along with a bracketed Vee-Jay logo. It is the same exact layout as one side of the inner paper sleeve that comes with the record. Apparently no other back cover had been prepared, or if it was, it was no longer available when Vee-Jay elected to issue the record in January 1964. Since timing at this point was critical (due to the plan to beat Capitol to the punch by getting Introducing The Beatles out before Meet The Beatles!), the lack of a better back cover caused no delay. The “ad-back” covers are now considered quite rare.
2) Blank-Back: This back cover also has no information about the music on the album, but instead is simply a glossy white blank cover. Some collectors believe that the blank-back covers were a transitional cover when the ad-backs had run out and the third back cover variation was still being printed. The “blank-back” covers, like the “ad-backs” are now considered quite rare.
3) Titles-On-Back (aka column-back): These back covers list the song titles in two columns. One for the side one songs and the other for the side two songs. The album title runs across the top with a bracketed Vee-Jay logo centered above it. This is the most common of the three back covers for mono copies, but for stereo copies, there are only a couple of these known to exist.
Each side of the paper inner sleeve shows ads for 25 other Vee-Jay albums. The print from one side was also used on the “ad-back” cover (see above).
The record labels for the stereo and mono version 1 records have numerous variations. The Vee-Jay logo used on all of these is either the ‘oval’ logo (see photo below) or brackets logo. One variation uses a smaller label (designed for single/45rpm) than the standard LP sized label.
Version 2: The mono version 2 front covers are identical to the mono version 1 covers other than the fact that they may also include a rectangular sticker affixed to them that says “Featuring Twist And Shout Please, Please Me”. The back covers are of the titles-on-back variety, however modified to include “Ask Me Why” and “Please Please Me” instead of “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You.” There have been cases discovered where a version 2 back cover slick has been pasted over a version 1 back, making it apparent that this is how some of the version 2 covers were created. On the version 2 back covers, there exists a much lesser common variation that does not include a comma in the “Please Please Me” title. Most of the stereo front covers are identical to their version 1 counterparts, however there are some that do not have the white banner across the top and instead have a sticker that reads “stereophonic” or “stereo” usually affixed near the lower left corner of the front cover (as you face the front of the jacket). There is another lesser common variation where the word “Stereophonic” in all capital letters appears above the word “Beatles” in the title. Version 2 albums came with the same paper inner sleeve as the version 1 albums.
As with version 1 records, the record labels for the stereo and mono version 2 records have numerous variations. The logos used on all of these is either the Vee-Jay ‘oval’ logo, brackets logo or plain letters logo (all pictured here).
It should also be noted that although a record may be packaged as a version 2, the actual record could play as a version 1, or vice-versa.
Version 2 records were repackaged as Song, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles or as 1/2 of the 2 album set The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons.
For further details on the numerous variations of this record, consult Songs, Pictures And Stories Of The Fabulous Beatles Records On Vee-Jay Records by Bruce Spizer. Bruce’s book is an incredible resource, but unfortunately out of print and quite hard to locate now. Bruce has recently issued a new digital version of the book with a few updates and these can be obtained from his website.
Authentic copies of Introducing The Beatles have become quite collectible over the years. The Price Guide For The Beatles American Records by Perry Cox and Frank Daniels (2007) cites this as a guideline for how much they are worth (keep in mind since this book is some years old, the prices are in all likelihood somewhat lower than what you could expect to buy them for today. Also, mint copies are worth considerably more than near mint copies, but can show no wear, age or signs of being played. I’m not sure if there are any authentic mint copies of this record in existence. Shrink wrapping albums was not common until late 1964, so shrink wrapped versions of these records are likely suspect. Note: “Near mint” (NM) or “Very Good” (VG) conditions are in line with the standards of Goldmine magazine as defined here.
-Version 1 ad-back mono – Very Good: $1000, Near Mint: $4000
-Version 1 ad-back stereo – Very Good: $3500, Near Mint: $12,000
-Version 1 blank-back mono – Very Good: $625, Near Mint: $2500
-Version 1 blank-back stereo – Very Good: $2500, Near Mint: $10,000
-Version 1 column-back mono – oval logo label: Very Good: $250, Near Mint: $1000
-Version 1 column-back mono – oval logo 45rpm size label: Very Good: $300, $1200
-Version 1 column-back mono – brackets logo label: Very Good: $375, Near Mint: $1500
-Version 1 column-back stereo – oval logo: Very Good: $3500, Near Mint: $14,000 (only a couple are known to exist)
-Version 2 mono Please, Please Me has comma – Very Good: $100, Near Mint: $400
-Version 2 mono brackets logo on label: Very Good: $50, Near Mint: $250
-Version 2 mono brackets logo 45rpm size label: Very Good: $60, $350
-Version 2 mono with silver letters, ‘VJ’ on top of label no logo: Very Good $75, Near Mint: $300
-Version 2 mono with silver oval logo on label: Very Good: $150, Near Mint: $600
-Version 2 mono with silver small brackets logo on label: Very Good: $500, Near Mint: $2000
-Version 2 mono -plays version 1 but labeled as Version 2: Very Good: $2000, Near Mint: $4000
-Version 2 mono -plays version 1 but label on only one side is version 2: Very Good: $1250, Near Mint: $3000
-Version 2 stereo brackets logo on label: Very Good: $375, Near Mint: $1500
-Version 2 stereo with oval logo 45rpm size label: Very Good: $450, $1800
-Version 2 stereo with silver letters, ‘VJ’ on top of label no logo: Very Good: $315, $1250
Value enhancements for Version 2 copies:
-If version 2 has no comma in Please Please Me on back, add this – Very Good: +$50, Near Mint: +$200
-If version 2 has Twist & Shout Sticker on cover, add this – Very Good: +$100, Near Mint: +$150
-If version 2 has version 2 paste-over slick over version 1 slick, add this – Very Good: +$450, Near Mint: +$600
-If version 2 mono has a stereo cover corrected with a black rectangular sticker reading mono in white letters affixed over the letters “STEREO” in the white “STEREOPHONIC” banner, add this – Very Good: +$250, Near Mint: +$400
-If version 2 has DJ Copy stamp, add this – Very Good: +$275, Near Mint: +$450
Believe it or not, there are still more variations than those I have listed. For more information, talk to a reputable dealer such as Gary Hein at Hein’s Rare Collectibles (www.beatles4me.com), or consult the book mentioned above.
Introducing The Beatles is commonly thought to be the most counterfeited album of all time. There are a few tests that you can do to evaluate the authenticity of a copy of this record but just because it passes a test or two, doesn’t mean it is authentic. You should do as many tests as possible and if you are still not sure, talk to a reputable dealer such as Gary Hein at Hein’s Rare Collectibles (www.beatles4me.com). If this album fails any of the tests I mention here, then it is definitely a fake (other than exceptions mentioned below), so buyer beware!
1) Covers with a brown border around the front cover photo are fakes.
2) Covers with a bright yellow tint and the word “STEREO” printed in black at the upper left are fakes.
3) Covers without George Harrison’s shadow, visible to the right of where he stands, near the edge are fakes.
4) Covers with red, blue, and yellow dots under the top of the back cover, are fakes. The dots are used by the printers. On originals, these dots are in a different area and not normally visible. (This fake is of particular importance, due to the high quality of the front cover photo. For that reason, this cover has fooled many collectors).
5) Covers for the stereo issue that list “Love Me Do” and “P. S. I Love You,” among the two columns of tracks on the back, are almost always fakes. Only a couple of authentic copies of these versions are known to exist.
6) If either the front or the back cover is flat (lacking gloss), it’s a counterfeit.
7) The ‘Honey Test’ – On the column-back covers look at the title “A Taste Of Honey.” On the ‘E’ in the word ‘Honey’ if some of the ink is missing in the upper left corner of the letter, it is a fake. Also check the upper left corner of the ‘H’ in ‘Honey’. The ink deficit in the ‘H’ may not be quite as discernible, but if seen indicates that it is a fake.
8) For Songs, Pictures and Stories of The Fabulous Beatles repackaged versions, if the title on the cover is shortened to Songs And Pictures of the Fabulous Beatles, it is a fake. These covers are also lacking the gatefold jackets.
1) Any labels with flat textured rainbow/colorband labels are fakes.
2) Labels that have “THE BEATLES” and “INTRODUCING The BEATLES” separated by the spindle hole are fakes.
3) If the width of the vinyl trail-off (i.e. the gap between the end of the last track and the edge of the label) is greater than one inch, it is a fake. This distance is between 7/8″ and 1″ on authentic copies.
4) Any copy with black labels that do not have the rainbow colorband, that are printed on glossy paper stock, are fakes.
5) Copies with rainbow/colorband labels that have faint print and/or weak color brightness and a lack of clarity are fakes. Often these fakes are missing the color green.
6) Stereo copies of the album (version 1 or 2) will have “Stereo” printed on both labels (A & B side). If not, it is fake.
7) In almost all cases, you should see one of these four stampings in the trail off area of the disc: (1) the term “AudioMatrix”, (2) The letters “MR” inside of a circle, (3) the letters “ARP” in italics or (4) the letters “URJ.” There are a few Santa Monica pressing where these stampings may not be apparent, but 90%, or so of the time, they should be there.
Again, for further questions concerning the legitimacy or worth of your copy of this record please contact one of the dealers listed here or at the conclusion of this article.
The subject of all photographs of albums, album jackets, sleeves, etc. in this article are of actual items within my very own record collection. These items are listed as entries in my own online vinyl inventory as linked below:
1) Introducing The Beatles, Version 1, mono
2) Introducing The Beatles, Version 1, stereo
3) Introducing The Beatles, Version 2, mono
4) Introducing The Beatles, Version 2, stereo
5) Songs, Pictures And Stories Of The Fabulous Beatles, mono
6) The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons, mono
In closing, I’d like to credit the main sources of information used in this post: Bruce Spizer’s Songs, Pictures And Stories Of The Fabulous Beatles Records On Vee-Jay, Bill Harry’s The Beatles Encyclopedia (revised And Updated, 2000 edition), Perry Cox and Frank Daniel’s Price Guide For The Beatles American Records (6th edition), and websites: Wikipedia.com, The Beatles At The Web Spot, and MyBeatlesCollection.com.
A few dealers in Beatles collectibles:
Please let me hear from you if you have questions, comments, corrections or anything to add about this album. I’d love to hear from you!
Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:
1) Please Please Me (Remastered) – 2009 remaster of original U.K. Please Please Me LP on CD, contains all tracks from versions 1 and 2 of stereo Vee-Jay Introducing The Beatles LP.
2) The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 (Longbox) – Box set of 4 CDs of 4 Capitol Beatles albums in both stereo and mono (The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help! and Rubber Soul) – The Early Beatles is the Capitol version of the Vee-Jay album Introducing The Beatles.