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#askNat – concerning the “Tomorrow Never Knows” I-compilation

This week on #askNat, Facebook reader George A. Fletcher writes:

I was wondering if I am the only Beatles fan who feels the Tomorrow Never Knows i-Compilation is a little bit of a “rip off” if not just a lazy rehashing of otherwise available material.

Note: George is referring to the Itunes compilation (i.e. ‘i-compilation’) Tomorrow Never Knows that is only available by download from the Itunes Store. It was released on July 24, 2012.

Well George, I must admit that I take this “album” release a bit less seriously than the others because it is only issued as a collection of sound files not otherwise available except by download from the iTunes store. Many disregard it’s validity without a factory pressed optical disc (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray) or vinyl media. As you point out however, it is a compilation. If you criticize it for not having anything new to offer then you have a perfectly valid point, but you should also remember that The Beatles 1962-1966 (“Red” album) or The Beatles 1967-1970 (“Blue” album) compilations did not have anything new to offer either. As a matter of fact, this is the case with many Beatles compilations. Compilations are often only a collection where most or all selections are previously released material. Eagles Greatest Hits, one of the biggest selling albums of all time, had not one track on it that had not been previously released.

Compilations provide a convenient way of getting the most well-known tracks together in one place. For some compilations however, “well-known” is not the intended criteria. For Tomorrow Never Knows the criteria was “most influential.” The track listing (agreed upon and approved by Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison) goes like this:

  1. “Revolution” (single version now on Past Masters Vol. 2)
  2. “Paperback Writer” (single version now on Past Masters Vol. 2)
  3. “And Your Bird Can Sing” (stereo version from Revolver)
  4. “Helter Skelter” (stereo version from The Beatles, i.e. “White Album”)
  5. “Savoy Truffle” (stereo version from The Beatles, i.e. “White Album”)
  6. “I’m Down” (single version now on Past Masters Vol. 2)
  7. “I’ve Got A Feeling” (Let It Be…Naked version)
  8. “Back In The U.S.S.R. (stereo version from The Beatles, i.e. “White Album”)
  9. “You Can’t Do That” (stereo version from A Hard Day’s Night)
  10. “It’s All Too Much” (stereo version from Yellow Submarine)
  11. “She Said She Said” (stereo version from Revolver)
  12. “Hey Buldog” (stereo version from Yellow Submarine)
  13. “Tomorrow Never Knows” (stereo version from Revolver)
  14. “The End” (The Beatles Anthology 3 version)
Tomorrow Never Knows, 2012 Icompilation cover art

Tomorrow Never Knows, 2012 Icompilation cover art

Not only had all of these songs been released previously, but all of them had been previously available on iTunes except the Let It Be…Naked version of “I’ve Got A Feeling.” Despite this fact, 13,670 downloads were made of the album in it’s first week of release. It peaked at #24 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. Is that good? I’d say for an album of old recordings that have all been released before – that’s pretty good!

Personally, as a lifelong Beatles fan and collector with all of the Beatles catalog already digitized in house, I still may have bought it if there was a vinyl or CD version of it. That’s only because when it comes to The Beatles – I’m a completist. Without that, it is no more than a playlist for me that I can already construct easily with my iTunes or other software. If I was a more casual fan though, and was just after a quick collection of some good rockers, Tomorrow Never Knows may have been just the way to go. With that in mind, I’m not going to knock it. In a way it just takes the place of some of those 1970′s vinyl themed compilation sets like Love Songs or Rock ‘N’ Roll Music that will never see an official CD release.

So what do you readers think of the compilation? Is it a good choice of songs? Should it have included some things that are new, unreleased or remixed (if it did I would have been awfully disappointed if there was no CD issued with it)? Should it have even been released at all? Give your views in the comments section below and thank you George for a good question!

Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions! Keep #askNat going by sending your questions to me in any of the following ways:

1) There is a designated form that you fill out right on the website where you can give your name, location, email address and submit your question. The form is right here and is the same form used to submit requests for BROWs (Beatles Rarity Of The Weeks), but modfied to do both BROW requests and #askNat questions.

2) If you are a Facebook user, you can submit your question right on TheBeatlesRarity FB wall at www.facebook.com/beatlesrarity. If you think about it, try to remember to flag your question with “#askNat”.

3) Similarly, if you are a Google+ user, you can submit your question on TheBeatlesRarity Google+ page at www.gplus.to/beatlesrarity. Google+ supports hashtag searchability so it will be helpful if you preface your question with “#askNat” here too.

4) For you Twitter users, www.twitter.com/beatlesrarity gets you to the right place. Post your question and be sure to add “#askNat” somewhere in the tweet.

Download Tomorrow Never Knows via Itunes (the only way to get it) by clicking here.

Any of your favorite Beatles-related music: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

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  • Al says:

    I’ve made a playlist using the album’s track list as well. The only thing I didn’t have was the remastered version of The End (Anthology Version). I never bothered to check out the Anthology remasters on iTunes. Those need a CD release.

    • Happy Nat says:

      Some may take this as breaking news and I didn’t mention it in the post but there is actually an extremely limited amount of vinyl Tomorrow Never Knows LPs. Good luck finding them though. They were used as giveaways at Apple.

  • Elliott Marx says:

    I was under the impression that the collection was themed as most rocking, not most influential.

    I think compilations like this serve us Beatles fanatics little purpose. But they may be valuable for kids just getting into this music. Especially little rocker boys and girls who recently got their first guitar or drum set.

    • Happy Nat says:

      The plug on thebeatles.com says “most influential rock songs” (see here), so that makes us both right. Naming it Tomorrow Never Knows does refer to the future implication of it (as an unknown?).

  • Nat, in fact there is a vinyl version of this compilation, it is a very limited promotional edition, here are the links to a photo of it, this one is from a mexican radio broadcaster and it was given directly from EMI in Mexico to him:
    You can be sure it isn’t fake, he played the whole album during a program, If you wish I can give you his e-mail for you to contact him and get more information.

    Maybe this Vinyl (and rare) version make it worth.

    • Happy Nat says:

      Thank you Lucio. I knew it was out there (see my earlier reply to Elliott’s comment on the existence of the vinyl version). I will have a look at the link and thanks for sharing.

  • Steve Beauchampe says:

    A reliable poster on the chart website Haven (I think it was) estimated sales worldwide had reached around 30,000 a couple of weeks back.

    I haven’t bought it either, but would if I could find one of those vinyl versions!!!

  • YouKnowMyNameLookUpThe# says:

    I’d buy a vinyl version to collect if I could find one. But for me, the CD would be more attractive.

    One thing I can say though about this this collection is it’s NOT just a hit song compilation like 1 (which sold a ton) or the Red & Blue compilations. Sure you can make your own tracklist from your ripped CDs or already downloaded iTunes tracks, I agree, there is no difference in the files. But if you want to make your own CD with artwork (the key being artwork) for this release, then you’ll have to pony up the fee to download this collection. AND speaking of the price, what I recall is this was also a cheap way to get this collection of songs. If you bought each track separately, it would have cost you $13.86 plus tax. But the price for this collection is $9.99. Maybe I’m wrong but wasn’t it initially $7.99 when it first was released?

    So for me, that was a cheap price to pay to get the artwork which makes it possible to make a reproduction of a mini LP sleeve**. :-) Otherwise, I’d have to make it from scratch and that’s just not a good use of time. lol

    On a side note, I bet we will see Reel Music, Love Songs and maybe Rock ‘n Roll Music on CD at some point just because they’ll make money on them. I only owned Rock ‘n Roll Music as a kid (my sister or father bought it for the family) but I’d buy them on CD now. Even though I can easily make my own with sleeves. lol

    **Yes, I make little reproduction album sleeves for my CDs. I use reproduced artwork for Vee-Jay records, Capitol Records and Apple Records to make holding burned CDs a bit more fun. I am over the top, I know. lol

    • Happy Nat says:

      Reel Music, Rock ‘N’ Roll Music and Love Songs have a few unique mixes so making them with today’s standard catalog wouldn’t be “technically exact.” An example of that is here. As far as artwork, for me it’s easy enough to download it off the Internet. The collection on vinyl remains more of an item for me.

      • Happy Nat says:

        Remember Reel Music had the “corrected” stereo “I Should Have Known Better” (see here for that).

      • josefpraks says:

        I would like to mention one feature concerning Blue Album (The beatles 1967-70). In my opinion there is something special and unique here: As far as I know this is the only official compilation where you can here “clean” version of “A Day In The Life” sans audience noises – which makes this compilation special to me.

        • Happy Nat says:

          Interesting comment Jose. But the clean intro version of “A Day In the Life” has appeared before. It was first introduced on the 1988 soundtrack CD to the film Imagine – John Lennon. The Blue Albums originally released on vinyl in 1973 simply faded in at the same crossfade on the Sgt. Pepper LP – so nothing new there. The Blue Albums recently remastered to CD in 2010 use the clean intro, as you say.

  • YouKnowMyNameLookUpThe# says:

    I am aware of the unique mixes which is why it would be nice if they did cave (they did on American albums) and issue it properly. I wouldn’t want them to issue it as a compilation of the 2009 remasters but as a remaster of the original compilation master tapes.

    But first, I guess I’d rather have more American issued albums on CD. ;-) Or the Christmas album of messages.

  • Bob Dudek says:

    Lazy rehash ? Absolutely. Ripoff ?? You cant get “ripped off” if you dont buy it. People get so possessive over Beatles music, which doesnt belong to them anyway. Never lose sight that its PRODUCT, like a loaf of bread. The first tip off should have been in 1964 when you had to pay for it ;)
    No , i didnt buy this , hence no “ripoff”.

    • YouKnowMyNameLookUpThe# says:

      Bob, there shall be no logic applied to anything here. lol You either like to collect something or you don’t. Some enjoy greatest hits and that’s enough, while others like the scrap heap as well, myself, I fall into the scrap heap loving section. lol

      As for your product comment, you are dead on. Which is why I like to find the best prices for it and I won’t over pay for anything they put out. That would take the fun out of collecting it.

      • Steve Beauchampe says:

        The best thing I guess, is that it gets some of the lesser known tracks into the ears of the more casual fan and may help encourage them to seek out more of the catalogue than just 1, Abbey Road, White Album etc. I still want one of those vinyl copies though!

  • Stacia says:

    I did end up buying this, mainly because I’m too lazy to rip all my Beatles CDs onto my computer, and therefore my iPod. I have enjoyed it on a couple road trips to visit my family.

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