Stop Knocking the American Releases of The Beatles, Already

dave dexter

The 2014 release of The Beatles’ The US Albums box set re-ignited a hot topic among die-hard Beatles fans: the pros and cons of Dave Dexter, the Capitol Records executive who prepared The Beatles’ LPs for the American market in the 1960s. In the decades since then, a narrative has emerged that the UK Beatles albums are actually the “correct” ones and that Capitol crassly tampered with “the creative intentions of the band.” But the fact is that Dave Dexter’s handiwork on The Beatles’ behalf has had an impact on American culture that resonates to this day. It’s high time we give him his due.

Dave Dexter Jr. was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1915. He started his career as a music journalist, championing the jazz scene of the ‘30s and ‘40s. “Dex” — as he was known among jazz musicians — joined Capitol Records in 1943 and worked his way up to the A&R department where he signed such legendary artists as Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington.

Steeped in jazz as he was, Dex hated rock and roll. He also knew that pop records from the UK didn’t sell very well in America. So when he heard the first Beatles recordings in 1962, he was unimpressed and rejected the band in defiance of Capitol’s parent company (EMI). But by late 1963, The Beatles were an international phenomenon that couldn’t be ignored any longer. There are conflicting accounts about Capitol’s decision to finally release “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as a single in the US; Dex claimed he heard the record himself on a trip to England and knew “after the first four bars” that this one was a hit. But Capitol’s then-president Alan Livingston said that they simply bowed to increased pressure from EMI and Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

Dex understood the American record market. He knew that the UK Beatles albums, with their subtle, artsy cover photos and astute liner notes would not grab the attention of American teenagers. He replaced them with splashy photo collages and BIG, BOLD TYPE, USUALLY IN ALL CAPS, WITH ADJECTIVES LIKE “ELECTRIFYING” AND “PHENOMENAL” AND PLENTY OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! He also tweaked the music itself, changing the EQ and adding reverb and compression to make The Beatles positively jump out of American transistor radios, car stereos, and phonographs.

Dex took even greater liberties with the track listings. In Britain, Beatles albums contained 14 songs each, and never included singles. (EMI refused to make British fans buy the same song twice.) But in America, anything above 11 songs on an LP meant higher royalty payments to the artist, and singles were used to drive album sales. So while EMI in Britain released seven Beatles albums and thirteen singles between 1962 and 1966, it only took Dex half as long (from 1964 to ‘66) to carve all that material into ten Beatles LPs for Capitol!

His motivations might have been strictly commercial, but Dex succeeded artistically as well (in this writer’s opinion). Meet The Beatles perfectly captures the initial rush of February 1964 Beatlemania. The Beatles Second Album is a 27-minute dose of kick-ass rock and roll. And 1966’s Yesterday And Today might be a mishmash of leftover tracks spanning the year between 1965 and‘66, but every single one of them is a winner. Such was his influence on the way an entire nation heard their music, Dave Dexter was (dare I say it) the American Fifth Beatle, even if he didn’t realize it himself.

But it’s not easy pleasing the record-buying public and your corporate overlords at the same time. Dex often clashed with Capitol management over their perceived errors in his judgment. He passed on other English acts like The Animals and Manfred Mann, and despite growing protests from The Fab Four and Brian Epstein, he refused to use the UK cover art and track listings, claiming that his methods were better suited for the American market.

It wasn’t until 1967, with the release of the landmark Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album and a re-negotiation of The Beatles’ recording contract, that the group’s albums remained intact after they crossed the Atlantic. Dex’s role at Capitol Records diminished over the years and he eventually left the company in the mid-1970s. He returned to music journalism, and was a frequent contributor to Billboard Magazine. In late December of 1980, three weeks after John Lennon’s murder, Dex wrote an infamously harsh editorial criticizing Lennon for being stubborn and difficult to work with. (Lennon apparently complained loudly and often about Capitol’s handling of the US albums.) Dave Dexter passed away himself in 1990, but his contribution to The Beatles’ legacy cannot be overstated.

When Brian Wilson says that Rubber Soul inspired him to make Pet Sounds, he’s referring to the folkier, acoustic-heavy American version that Dex assembled. Other American artists with overt Beatles influences — from The Byrds to Tom Petty — also got their initial Fab Four fix from Dex and Capitol. Those “hodgepodge” LPs created millions of American sense memories, and they sound and feel damn good all these years later. Forget “the band’s intentions” for a moment. Dex’s job was to sell that music to the American public, and by expertly anticipating the needs of the US market he succeeded beyond all expectations. Long live Dex!

John Montagna

Photo: Michael Webb (courtesy Getty Images)

PS. Another argument that may never end – who’s the real Fifth Beatle? Check out some of top contenders here.  With the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper now in the rear view mirror, you may also enjoy our post on how its famous album cover came to be.
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59 comments on “Stop Knocking the American Releases of The Beatles, Already

  1. There are “purists” who will never accept what Dexter and Capital did. I say it’s all about the music, and Capital delivered, especially on Yesterday and Today, butcher cover or no butcher cover.

  2. I think Capitol did a great job with Rubber Soul, but the other releases were beyond awful.

    • the American Rubber Soul was accidentally Great! folk rock was about to take over and what goes on was a mediocre at best,song -i could live without drive my car too! i’ve just seen a face and it’s only love make this LP SUPERIOR

  3. Sterling Archer

    The UK versions ARE the CORRECT versions. There’s no debate anymore.

  4. Jack Bletcher

    MEET THE BEATLES had that great 1-2-3 punch of “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “This Boy.” This is precisely what sold American fans on a group they ignored till then. And, as previously mentioned, RUBBER SOUL was a cohesive set of songs over here, while it seemed the ‘official’ British version was just a bunch of songs thrown together. On the other hand, we were ripped off on the A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and HELP! soundtracks while the British versions excelled. Overall, there’s good and bad in both ( “Yesterday” and “Act Naturally” on HELP!? ). I say instead of beating them over the head with each other we love them all.

    • Denis Donovan

      The biggest ripoff of all, however, is Something New, given that to a large degree it is comprised of songs from the (several month’s) previously released, A Hard Days Night.

    • Edd Davies

      Yes, Jack. You nailed it! Making a blanket statement that all the U.S. versions save one are “beyond awful” is just plain silly. Meet the Beatles is a classic. I will grant that “The Beatles Second Album” is a prime contender for the least imaginative (and least accurate) record title in history and that, at 27 minutes, was a bit of a rip-off. The American Rubber Soul was the best of the lot however. Also, I agree with another of the commenters that “Dex” had no business fiddling with the reverb and EQ.

  5. The music is the story. It overcame any and all record company decision-making. It seems silly to pretend that this man pushed some magic button. The Ed Sullivan Show broke the dam. As John Lennon supposedly said, they could have farted on stage at that point.

  6. spinetingler

    A butcher.

  7. All respect to the author (a great musician in his own write (;) but I don’t believe for a second that the American public wouldn’t have responded the same way to the original U.K. albums. The rest of the world sure did. And messing with the mixes and sound of those songs is beyond forgivable. Even adding in false starts and studio chatter against the Beatles’ wishes. Meet The Beatles is cool, US Rubber Soul is alright, but nothing will ever beat the original albums as they were intended. Who was Dexter to think he had the right to do that?

  8. Besides album arrangement, there were song engineering differences. An example was the end of I Feel Fine. The U.K. Version you can distinctly hear the dogs barking at the end of the song…

  9. Benny Farmer

    I suppose one can find someone who will champion anything, even the notion that Dave Dexter knew the Beatles material better than the Beatles. But there is absolutely no way to ever know if The Beatles’ US success would have been any different had Dexter not added some reverb and EQ to the records. I suspect not. To my ears, it made them sound worse. More on that later.

    As to the author’s point that ‘Dex understood the American record market… “He knew that the UK Beatles albums, with their subtle, artsy cover photos and astute liner notes would not grab the attention of American teenagers.”
    In fact, he used the very same cover photo for Meet the Beatles that Parlophone had used on With the Beatles. The other first US albums are different enough from the UK originals that there is no cover comparison to be made.

    What’s inexcusable is the tinkering with track listing and the hoarding of songs to manufacture extra albums.
    “EMI in Britain released seven Beatles albums and thirteen singles between 1962 and 1966, it only took Dex half as long (from 1964 to ‘66) to carve all that material into ten Beatles LPs for Capitol!”

    Wait… this is a positive? One had to buy much more product to get the same content? Okay, sure you got some singles instead, but in 1964-5, everyone already had the singles – hence their unprecedented sales. This guy was watering down the product to make more of it, plain and simple.

    “American artists with overt Beatles influences — from The Byrds to Tom Petty — also got their initial Fab Four fix from Dex and Capitol. Those “hodgepodge” LPs created millions of American sense memories, and they sound and feel damn good all these years later. Forget “the band’s intentions”

    Basically, he seems to be saying that this is how Americans first heard the albums and they were big hits so DD can’t be criticized. Well, we in Canada heard yet a different configuration because Capitol Canada released different albums in a different order than either the UK or the US (seems hard to believe now). Canada was actually slightly ahead of the curve on The Beatles – Beatlemania was out two months earlier than its US equivalent Meet the Beatles.

    Amazingly, the last of the three, The Early Beatles – which contains material from their first UK album) was not released in the US until 1965 – after an adulterated A Hard Day’s Night, and the Dexter-created Something New, and Beatles 65.

    I only bring this up to say that the Canadian incarnations are how I (and any other Canucks of my increasingly superannuated vintage) encountered these things, so anyone one who was excited or inspired by them – according to the author’s logic – owes a huge debt to whoever the hell at Capitol Canada assembled these things. Because that’s how it happened and you never know if The Beatles would have succeeded otherwise and those are our sense memories so there. Right.

    By 1965 (given the rapidity of The Beatles’ evolution), the slice and dice approach was yielding truly awful results, robbing coherent albums of key tracks.
    Says the author: “When Brian Wilson says that Rubber Soul inspired him to make Pet Sounds, he’s referring to the folkier, acoustic-heavy American version that Dex assembled”

    Yeah, right. Because if he had heard a version of Rubber Soul that included Drive my Car, If I Needed Someone, and Nowhere Man, all of which DD cut from the US release, he would have been way less impressed by the album.
    Most of these tracks ended up on the truly incoherent Yesterday and Today. But the author attempts to defend even that weird collection..

    “And 1966’s Yesterday And Today might be a mishmash of leftover tracks spanning the year between 1965 and‘66, but every single one of them is a winner.”

    Yeah, but the first half of that sentence concern’s Dex’s fault, the second half is entirely The Beatles’ achievement. And the tracks were not “leftover”. They had been ripped out of their proper settings and placed in this “mishmash”. And the album itself is a collection of unrelated tracks like someone had pressed the shuffle button on an Ipod. I mean, an album that includes Act Naturally and I’m Only Sleeping… I ask you. In fact, many felt that the album’s original butcher block cover was The Beatles’ comment on what Capitol was doing to their work.

    But Dexter’s worst work was on the last album he had a crack at, Revolver. Arguably the Beatles’ best album, the US version is much weaker than the original. It didn’t even add any singles, it simply omitted I’m Only Sleeping, And Your Bird Can Sing, and Dr. Robert. No wonder Lennon was pissed.

    One final point, I grew up with the Canadian and then American albums. I was fanatic enough to be aware of the original UK versions, but not nearly rich enough to afford the prestigious British imports, which were only to be wondered at from afar on record stores. Then one day, in a discount record shop, I found a raft of Beatles’ imports – the original Parlaphone albums – marked down to a stunning $2.99 each. I suspect error or theft. Anyways, I scooped them up. To this day I remember the unbelievable sound of the opening of Baby, You’re a Rich Man – with incredible presence and stunning bass response.

    It was wildly superior to the North American version I had been listening to for years. I felt cheated. And a name flashed through my mind. Dave Dexter, Jr.

    • Benny, I agree with everything you said. If anything, Dexter only cheapened and distorted Americans’ perception of the Beatles. As a kid, growing up in 1960’s America, I was lucky enough to have an audiophile dad who brought home the Parlophone pressings of Beatles albums, so I knew how superior they were to the Capitol versions. I remember feeling sorry for my fellow Beatlemaniac-friends who didn’t even realize there existed superior versions of these albums. I can’t understand how this article can rationalize Americans getting fewer songs per disc as a good thing. The Parlophone versions that I really remember as superior to their Capitol counterparts were “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Help!”, “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver”, though I guess the American Hard Day’s Night was on United Artists. In the UK, HDN was the Beatles first album of all original songs. It was an amazing 14 compositions that really catapulted the Beatles reputation in the world as great songwriters. In America, all you got was the 7 songs from side-one of the UK version, interspersed with several orchestral ditties from the movie soundtrack that NOBODY was interested in hearing. This version made it impossible for Americans to realize how truly incredible HDN really was. It was exactly the same with “Help!”. Americans would only get the songs from side-one of the UK version, interspersed with more uninteresting instrumental movie soundtrack noise. Americans had to buy Capitol fabrication albums like “Beatles VI”, “Beatles 65”, “Something New” and “Yesterday and Today”, just to get what British fans were already getting. With “Rubber Soul”, Capitol altered the entire feeling of the album by substituting as the first song on the album, “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (omitted from “Help!”) for the incredibly intricate and soulful “Drive My Car”. It was always my contention that beginning “Rubber Soul” with “Drive My Car” was the Beatles’ subtle way of saying that they had finally reached the level of sophistication needed to create their own “Soul Music”, as “Drive My Car” had a very R&B sound to it. To begin Rubber Soul with the simple country-esque “I’ve Just Seen a Face” completely changed the feeling of the album, contrary to what the Beatles surely intended. To this day, I know lots of American Beatles fans who still aren’t even familiar with the great songs that Capitol omitted from Rubber Soul and Revolver. And, like you said, Benny, I’m sure Lennon wasn’t happy that the 3 songs Capitol omitted from “Revolver” were all Lennon’s compositions. Just last year, for the 50th anniversary of “Revolver”, I had a listening party at my house and started by playing just the first 3 songs from the album in sequence: “Taxman” (Harrison), “Eleanor Rigby” (McCartney) and “I’m Only Sleeping” (Lennon), just to give an example of one song from each of the songwriters in the group. To my dismay, one of my guests with whom I grew up listening to the Beatles had no recollection of ever hearing Lennon’s ethereal and jazzy “I’m Only Sleeping”. Pity.

      • Phillip

        Throwing a wrench in, I also do not like digital versions of either. Even the vinyl coming out now is just a digital master being copied on analogue. Try listening to Sgt. pepper on CD and on the original analogue vinyl. The original is so much more beautiful and musical. Digital sounds choppy like they couldn’t capture the flow of it all. I wish we could get an indestructible vinyl copy of the original analogue as the Beatles intended, for all of their works, all in one set. Quit remastering and just one analogue final please. I would pay for it. Make the vinyl out of scratch proof materials? Love the Beatles though. They were talented individuals, but put them together….wow, its now wonder they blew everything away and still do.

        • George C

          what you’re asking for is impossible by virtue of the nature of the medium that is the vinyl record; they’re super heated at the needle’s contact point while playing, when they cool down they will not retain the exact same shape each time, manifesting as loss of finer details/higher frequencies after with repeated play-throughs..

    • John Molinelli

      Agreed- 100%. Dexter was a menace to the Fab 4’s work. One exception- the Second Album was excellent; it was my very first LP in my over-burgeoning album collection, and I still have it to this day.

  10. Thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful commentary. We understand that John’s opinion of Dex is, shall we say, the minority view — but figured it was an interesting take worth publishing. We braced for an avalanche of invective, but are grateful for the (generally) civil tone throughout. Thank you!

  11. Philip David Williams

    Would anyone in their right mind in 1966 have purchased the American version of REVOLVER (11 tracks, nothing extra added) if the British version (14 tracks) had been readily available? Better question: Who in their right mind would buy the American over the British version NOW??? Brainwashed baby-boomers who don’t mind paying more for less, that’s who.

    If ol’ Dex had been smart, he’d’ve at LEAST put “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” on the American version. But he didn’t think to do that on ANY Beatle album around that time. Sheer “genius.” British Beatle-sanctioned albums all the way!

    • MisterV

      Revolver is an excellent example of the US version being diminished by the dropping of Paperback Writer and Rain.
      Rubber Soul is more of a mixed bag for me. I loved Rubber Soul and the US version was the only one that I heard until years later.
      The song Its Only Love on the US version and the absence of Drive My Car make me lean towards the US version of this one album.

      • Rudyard

        Also ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ make the folkier American version of Rubber Soul a better album.

      • No version of Revolver ever had Paperback Writer and Rain. It was I’m Only Sleeping and Doctor Robert that were dropped from the U.S. version.

  12. Dave Connor

    Tinkering with the sound is an indisputable violation. Obviously there wasn’t a remote concept of tampering with a final work of artistry. Packaging (which the Beatles lifted to the realm of ‘art’) is to some degree forgivable but to deface the actual work itself is presumptive in the extreme. Ed Sullivan witnessed their popularity in England at an airport and knew that kids were the same everywhere. He presented them exactly as they were and of course wouldn’t dream of inserting himself between them and the public. It’s nonsense that history would have gone another way without this meddling executive.

  13. Ron Wagner

    DD’s use of “duophonic” recordings when using mono mixes of the singles on the American albums instead of getting the stereo masters from EMI is inexcusable. And what he did to I Feel Fine and She’s A Woman, drenching them in reverb on Beatles ’65, is an abomination – those two mixes a basically unlistenable! I’ll give him credit for making Rubber Soul an overall better listening experience. That’s it.

  14. I do understand the authors point. Many of us grew up with these classic tracks. It was really blasphemous messing with the eq’s and track configuration. It was not intended to be the way Dex saw it. He had the nerve to mess with ART !! The Brit Lp’s are the intended.

  15. “Forget “the band’s intentions” for a moment. Dex’s job was to sell that music to the American public, and by expertly anticipating the needs of the US market he succeeded beyond all expectations. ”

    I still don’t quite get what the “needs of the US market” were. People wouldn’t buy records unless drenched in reverb? Or perhaps people only bought albums with the word “ELECTRIFYING” on it?

    Dex did not “sell” the Beatles at all to the US market. Between the early radio play of “I want to hold your hand” (ahead of Capitol’s planned schedule), Ed Sullivan shows and other events, there is no evidence to suggest anything Capitol executives did had any impact on the popularity of the Beatles’ music, aside from refusing to release it earlier. Capitol had no *positive* effect on Beatles music at all. After Ed Sullivan shows, no amount of reverb was influential in making Beatles music more ‘accessible’ to the market. It’s all in apologists’ heads.

  16. The only defense for the musical mutilation of The Beatles’ work by Dexter is that nostalgic American fans remember the Beatlemania days by these versions. Had no interference taken place, however, the phenomenon of The Beatles would have been exactly the same. Classic case of a record company exec thinking he knew the music better than the artist. Wrong then and wrong now, despite the attempt at revisionism in this piece.

  17. He sounds like a jerk to me – doing whatever he wanted with the Beatles music. Glad he was relegated to the dust bin after the contract was renewed. Ranting about Lennon three weeks after he’s dead? What a sweetie.

  18. The thing is ALL American record companies chopped up and redid every UK band’s albums with exploitative covers, strange track listings, and reprocessed stereo. If Dex wasn’t at Capitol somebody else would have done the same thing.

    The dumb thing is “The Old Men In The Tower” (as Brian Wilson called them) let all those EMI bands go to other companies thinking the British Invasion was just a quick fad. Capitol would have ruled the USA charts had they had the Animals, Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits, Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, The Hollies and so many other great UK bands, What did they pick up? Cilla Black, The Seekers and Peter & Gordon instead.

    One of my favorite Beatles albums is “Second Album”. I have a ugly green Capitol label Scranton PA pressing which is mega-compressed to the extreme (Ringo’s cymbals just hiss all the way through it) with those ratty Duophonic versions, but I still love listening to it. But overall of the USA albums just aren’t as good as the UK versions, but I’m glad they are available.

  19. I always found the U.S. albums to be fizzy and chirpy. That said, I did buy the U.S. versions of Hard Day’s Night and Help! for the Soundtrack music.
    I bought Beatles VI to have another version of Bad Boy. I bought Hey Jude for the cover and it’s also a nice collection of songs. I also bought Yesterday And Today for the novelty of the peel-off cover revealing the ‘butcher’ photo. Other than these, I have no desire to own the entire box set of U.S. releases.

  20. It was what it was. I remember wishing so hard to find any British version just to SEE it…with the flimsier cover. My father went to England on business in the late 70’s and BEGGED him to bring back a British Beatles LP. So what does he bring? Let It Be! (sigh) Still have it with the English price tag on it.

  21. Bullshit. Although it is common record company practice to present songs previously released under a different album title, you are fucking with an artist’s work and misrepresenting their intent when you release their title with a different track list. If they didn’t achieve U.S. success without some marketing guy re-packaging your catalog, then so be it. At least you can sleep at night knowing your role in presenting the music was pure. Certainly by the time Rubber Soul came out the public would have accepted the running order of songs as is, but the greedy Capitol executives still had to hold over two cuts to save for cobbling together yet another U.S. album It’s good that The Beatles finally put their foot down with Sgt. Pepper and said “no more.” But that didn’t stop Capitol from adding songs to the Magical Mystery Tour EP and sell it as an album in the U.S. (Ironically that become a sought after import commodity in the U.K.) In a strange way I can see why that decision was made due to the relative unpopularity of the EP in the U.S. But I think the real damage comes from changing the sonic signature by doing things like re-channeling Mono into fake Stereo and adding extra reverb.

    • Greg Walker

      Sometime “less is more”- and having a theme or unifying factor is better than just throwing a collection of songs at the fans. Such is the case with Rubber Soul: “Drive My Car” is just a pedestrian, run-of-the-mill Beatles song, and “What Goes On” is arguably their worst of all time; I cringe every time I hear that latter, and get annoyed that “Car” begins the British version of this. Although there are GOOD songs removed from the American version, the removal of these two, and the addition of “I’ve Just Seen A Face” make the American version superior to the Brit one.

  22. I prefer the American version of I feel fine, with all the reverb. I remember being disappointed in the Original version when I first heard it.

  23. I wouldn’t give this guy credit for anything and it is pure hubris to think that he knew better. If you enjoy fewer songs on an album with inferior sound, then the Capitol albums are for you. I started to seek the original UK albums in Mono as intended and for some reason didn’t pick up Sgt. Pepper in mono. I finally have it in my collection and is so Fab!

  24. I was raised with the American versions and to e they are just as correct. When I heard the English “She’s A Woman” and “I Feel Fine”, I just didn’t like it. It seemed dry and dull. The American was so full and lively! … and how could Rubber Soul not start with “I’ve Just Seen A Face”… it just ain’t right!

  25. The fifth Beatle? There was no fifth Beatle. The others were former members who had no contribution to the band’s success.

  26. riffster

    Anyone responsible for Rubber Soul kicking off with “I’ve Just Seen a Face” did one thing right, at least.

  27. Tom Barnes

    To some degree, The Beatles would probably agree that the albums they released in the early years were just a collection of unrelated songs they had written at various times. Some were new songs and some dated back to pre-Ed Sullivan days. Later on, the songs grouped together reflected new ideas, new directions in their music and personal lives and it was important that they remained together as a whole. As unified albums they represent dramatic and historic evolution of music and The Beatles as musicians.
    The crime that Dexter and Capitol Records committed was using The Beatles as a cash cow – breaking up two albums into three for increased sales and profits. The Beatles commented that the cover on the ‘butcher’ album, AKA Yesterday and Today, reflected their feelings about the way Capitol approached the EMI albums – chopping them to pieces for more profit.
    Personally, what bothers me most, as I work my way through Beatle songs again, is how Capitol versions are actually altered versions with additional sounds and effects. I came across a harmonica riff on one Capitol version that doesn’t exist on the EMI version. That IS actually sacrilege. How a US record company came to the conclusion that it had the right to alter the final product completed by George Martin and The Beatles in London is beyond me. For Dexter and Capitol it was obviously all about the money.

  28. In 1964, no one had any clue whatsoever the future of the Beatles music nor the affect they would have on the world.
    They absolutely were a “cash cow” for Dexter and Capitol, and why wouldn’t they be? Dexter and Capitol were out to make money on a “next big thing til the next next big thing came along” – they were in business to sell a product and make money. And they did well on both.
    As I stated, no one had any idea of the future. Albums by pop groups meant nothing in 1964.
    And remember, at that point in time, the Beatles themselves didn’t really mind either, as long as they were also part of that cash cow.

  29. Putting the concurrent singles with the albums is what George Martin would’ve done if he’d been allowed to do so in England. That said, Dexter is simply a collector of songs at the time, not really important it any other way.

  30. Did he have a hand in Magical Mystery Tour, which was an LP in the US (with the addition of singles on the second side) but an EP elsewhere.

  31. Greg Walker

    Perhaps Dexter wasn’t quite as savvy as he would have liked to think, since he passed on the Beatles initially, because he didn’t like John’s harmonica playing!

  32. He passed on the Beatles twice. This guy was a corporate hack that hated rock & roll and it is the Beatles talent and artistry that lives on. Here is an excerpt of a Billboard article I read: “(Amazingly, Dexter kept his post as head of international A&R in spite of having turned down not only the Beatles but also Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Hollies, the Animals, the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits and the Yardbirds, not to mention Epstein’s Billy J. Kramer. In fact, Dexter remained in charge of A&R’ing the Beatles’ records for the American market and was responsible for the reconfiguration of the U.K. albums on Capitol. Years later, upon Lennon’s death, he wrote a fairly mean editorial in Billboard about the late Beatle, for which the magazine later apologized.)”

  33. Ellis Matthews ( www.themojotwo.com

    A very well-written and appropriate article…but I’m still not buyin’ what you’re sellin’…

  34. Geoff Wood

    Headline makes no sense requesting to “Stop Knocking the American Releases of The Beatles, Already”. If ‘already’ is a factor then the knocking has already stopped, unless there is some anomaly in the time-space-continuum.

  35. John Gilbert

    I grew up with Meet the Beatles and always loved it. Also had the US version of Revolver. When the Revolver CD came out with the British track lineup, I realized that I had been cheated out of three great songs. And Your Bird Can Sing, with its dual lead guitar harmonies, was the invention of power pop.

  36. Greg Sinclair

    More than anything it proves that the strength of the music alone would rise above any tinkering with, that any record exec was going to do. Changing artwork, changing tracklisting, even changing the sound couldn’t dull the power of the music.
    The thing that absolutely torched it with Dave Dexter for me was the piece he wrote in Billboard magazine, the first issue after Lennons death, when he felt it necessary to proclaim that (I’m going to get this quote wrong, but it went something like…) “John was an irritant to those who had to work with him.”
    Which I imagine he was, at least to the guy who sliced their albums up.
    But, with Dexter, talk about a guy who didn’t read the room. The issue was full of full page ads from record labels, artists etc which were heartfelt tributes to the man and Dexter decided it was a good time to air his hurt feelings that John could be difficult with him, when it came to the music.

  37. I mean no disrespect good people but Dave Dexter Jr had nothing to do with “Yesterday and Today & Revolver. By 1966 Bill Miller prepared those to LPs for release. It’s on the back cover slick. ‘Yesterday and Today ‘ was even updated in 68’ with the unique true stereo mixes of the missing ‘Revolver’ tracks that George Martin sent to the Capitol Tower on May 20th 1966.

  38. Sorry for the typos.

  39. Craig R.

    Very interesting discussion! I find that most of the UK vs. US conversations usually devolve into shouts of “butchering!” and accusations of sacrilege.

    As an American millennial who first was exposed to the Beatles through oldies radio, I was initially familiar with the UK versions resulting from the 1987 decision to streamline the discography and make the UK releases canon internationally. The UK Hard Day’s Night was my first Beatles album and remains a favorite.

    That said, I initially stumbled upon the US Rubber Soul when I was looking into why the version of “The Word” played on my local oldies station was different from the one on my album, with Lennon’s vocals doubled on the verses and added falsetto. That opened me up to a new vision of what I already considered a masterpiece. I found the placement of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” to the album opener to be inspired, showcasing a gem that was previously hidden (and, in my opinion, out of place) on the B-side of Help. Not to say that I don’t love “Drive My Car,” but just to say that I enjoy it more in a different context.

    A few quick points about this debate:

    The Beatles were geniuses, as a collective and individually. But they were not infallible. When choosing the ideal listen (a subjective venture in and of itself), the artist’s intent does not always trump another reimagining. I find that for most Beatles albums it did, but not always. I find Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” to be informative here. The overdubbing of electric instruments and drums was definitely not Paul’s intent, but I think few modern listeners would find the original acoustic to be the superior or more important recording. So while I agree that going against the artists wishes is a potentially horrifying prospect, the results are not always catastrophic – there can even be accidental improvements!

    It’s also important to remember that the Beatles themselves sometimes expressed regret at some of the Parlophone results (e.g. that “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” were omitted from Sgt. Pepper). It’s also likely that many times there were competing visions within the group themselves, and the final Parlophone results may have been viewed as a compromise by some in certain instances. So what we view as “definitive” here may actually not be what John, Paul, Ringo, or George had hoped the final product would be.

    We are all a product of our own environments, and to me at least the philosophy of including the hit singles on an album makes much more sense to my American mind. Omitting these singles from an album was indeed common in the US not a decade prior (see the omission of “Heartbreak Hotel” on Elvis’s debut), but had since fallen out of vogue. And while many UK devotees laud the “never buying the same thing twice” approach that Martin took, that does not mean that this philosophy didn’t diminish the final product of some of the albums. The one time that this approach was taken in the US (the 3 tracks omitted from the US Revolver LP had been previously released on Yesterday and Today) I don’t think anyone views that as an improvement on Revolver. I find these arguments to be inconsistent and they don’t contribute to what the overall listening experience is.

    In terms of the added reverb, I also find this to have had very mixed results. Often I find it unnecessary or off-putting, but The Beatles’ Second Album (what a silly title!) absolutely benefits from this in my mind. To listen to the original US mixing vs. the UK just brought this to life for me. I’m also partial to the reverb on “I Feel Fine,” but get that many prefer the original.

    Album cohesion plays a big factor in my own overall enjoyment of an album, but I would say the Beatles themselves had a checkered history in this regard. I find in particular that the White Album and Help! have some wonderful content but play themselves like random compilations, so this concept that the Capitol versions were entirely detrimental to a cohesive listen seems a bit lacking.

    Finally, while we are so quick to demonize Capitol, it’s important to note that they were not alone in this practice, nor did all US albums make it to the UK without tinkering. It blows my mind that the UK Surrealistic Pillow omitted “White Rabbit” in favor of including tracks from the pre-Slick album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Capitol also weren’t the only players in the US Beatles market. Vee-Jay was first to release their debut (or some form of it) and Capitol didn’t have the rights to a Hard Day’s Night. So the release was always going to be complicated.

    In summation to this very longwinded post (apologies!), we now live in a day and age where we can preserve both the artistic vision of the Fab Four as well as the historically important American presentation, and we can each have our own preferences within the catalogue without being heretics. I largely prefer the UK catalogue, but with some specific exceptions:

    I think the US Rubber Soul is an accidental masterpiece and slightly edges out the UK version.
    I think Meet the Beatles! is preferable to With the Beatles, and an excellent introduction to the group for many US fans.
    I think the Beatles ’65 is a stronger album than Beatles For Sale.
    I think most agree today that the Magical Mystery Tour LP is preferable to the original EP, as it has made it into UK canon despite the Beatles initial unhappiness with that decision.
    I think the Beatles’ Second Album is an underappreciated classic, despite having no obvious counterpart in the UK catalogue.
    I do love Yesterday and Today, though I understand people’s issues with the anachronisms of spanning from Help to Revolver. There’s just not a bad track on it!

    But the UK Revolver, Hard Days Night, and Help are vastly superior to their US counterparts, and some of their most important records (save for the great Bond intro on “Help!”).

    And ultimately my favorite Beatles album is the masterpiece Abbey Road, which mercifully was the same on both sides of the pond.

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