Introducing... The Beatles is the first American album by The Beatles, released by Vee-Jay Records, ten days before Capitol Records's own album Meet the Beatles! The two albums found themselves fighting in the charts, and then was the subject of legal problems before Vee-Jay was allowed to sell the album until July 1964, where it had already sold 1.3 million copies. The album was later certified gold and platinum by the RIAA.
When the "Please Please Me" single was issued in the United States, Vee-Jay Records signed a licensing agreement with Transglobal, an EMI affiliate that worked to place foreign masters with U.S. record labels, giving it the right of first refusal on Beatles records for five years. As part of that agreement, Vee-Jay planned to release the Please Please Me album in the U.S., and received copies of the mono and stereo master tapes in late April or early May 1963.
Originally, Vee-Jay considered releasing Please Please Me as it appeared in Britain. A surviving acetate made by Universal Recording Corporation of Chicago, probably in May 1963, contains all 14 songs in the same order as on the UK album, with the title still listed as Please Please Me. But in keeping with the American norm of a 12-song album, Vee-Jay chose instead to delete "Please Please Me" and "Ask Me Why" and change the album's title to Introducing... The Beatles. Also, the engineer at Universal in Chicago thought that Paul McCartney's count-in at the start of "I Saw Her Standing There" was extraneous rather than intentionally placed there, so he snipped the "one, two, three" from Vee-Jay's mono and stereo masters. Except for those deletions, the order and contents of the album were untouched, resulting in a U.S. album that bore the closest resemblance to a British Beatles LP until Revolver in 1966.
Preparations for the LP's release continued in late June and early July 1963, including the manufacturing of masters and metal parts and the printing of 6,000 front covers. But, despite the claims of many older books that Introducing... The Beatles was first released on 22 July 1963, no paper trail exists to suggest that the album was released at any time in 1963.
After a management shake-up at the label, which included the resignation of company president Ewart Abner after he used company funds to cover gambling debts, Vee-Jay canceled Introducing... The Beatles as well as albums by Frank Ifield, Alma Cogan and a Jewish cantor.
Vee-Jay's financial problems forced it to take care of its most pressing debt first. Because the Beatles and Ifield were low priorities, the label chose not to report royalties on their sales. As a result, Transglobal declared its contract with Vee-Jay null and void on 8 August 1963.
On 14 December 1963, Billboard magazine mentioned that Capitol Records planned an all-out promotional campaign for the Beatles in the United States. On 7 January 1964, Vee-Jay's board of directors met for the first time since that announcement, and it discussed the Beatles' material it had in the vault. Desperate for cash, the board decided to release Introducing... The Beatles, even if it meant legal trouble in the future.
Metal parts were already at Vee-Jay's three primary pressing plants, and 6,000 front covers were already printed. But it had no back cover prepared. So, as a stopgap, the label used a back cover slick made from one side of its standard inner sleeve, consisting of full-colour reproductions of the covers of 25 "other fine albums of significant interest". This cover is known by collectors as the "Ad Back" version and is highly sought-after. A second stopgap back cover was used when the "Ad Back" slicks were exhausted; because it is all-white with no printing at all, it is known by collectors as the "Blank Back" edition and is also very rare. Finally, third editions contain Vee-Jay's official back cover, with Introducing the Beatles (no ellipsis) near the top and the song titles in two columns underneath. All of these were available on the market within days of the January 10 release date.
But on 16 January 1964, less than a week after Introducing... The Beatles was released, Vee-Jay was served with a restraining order stopping further distribution. Beechwood Music, Inc., Capitol Records' publishing subsidiary, owned the American publishing rights to "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You", and because the two songs had not yet been officially released in the U.S., Beechwood refused to issue a licence for Vee-Jay to release them. Approximately 80,000 copies of Introducing... The Beatles had been released with the two songs on them, with only 2,000 or so in stereo.
In order to circumvent the restraining order, Vee-Jay quickly reconfigured Introducing... The Beatles. It removed "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" and replaced them with the previously deleted "Ask Me Why" and "Please Please Me", though some pressings of the album did not alter the track list. The new versions were prepared in late January and began appearing in stores approximately 10 February 1964.
Because of the initial restraining order, version two of Introducing... The Beatles did not enter the Billboard album charts until three weeks after Meet the Beatles!. Once it did, it quickly rose to the #2 spot, where it stayed for nine straight weeks. It also peaked at #2 in Cash Box, and it got to #1 in Record World magazine.
Even with the replacement of the two Beechwood Music songs, Vee-Jay and Capitol battled in court throughout the early part of 1964. Injunctions against Vee-Jay's album were issued, lifted and restored more than once. Because the album was often pressed quickly between restraining orders, there are almost two dozen different label variations, including mono and stereo copies, manufactured at numerous pressing plants. Finally, on 9 April 1964, the two labels settled. Vee-Jay was granted a licence giving it the right to issue the 16 Beatles songs it controlled, in any way it saw fit, until 15 October 1964. At that time, its licence expired, and all rights would revert to Capitol. During the time Introducing... The Beatles was available, it sold approximately 1,300,000 mono copies and approximately 41,000 stereo copies. Because only 3 percent of all of the LPs were in stereo, true stereo copies are rare.
Twice before its license expired, Vee-Jay repackaged Introducing... The Beatles. Although neither album contained any new music, both of them made the Billboard album charts.
One of these was Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles (Vee-Jay VJLP(S)-1092), which featured a three-quarters gatefold cover. The record inside the cover didn't even contain the new name; it still stated Introducing the Beatles on the label. Songs, Pictures and Stories was released either in late July 1964 or 12 October 1964, with the latter the more likely date, because it entered the Billboard album chart on 31 October. It eventually peaked at #63.
The other one was the two-record set The Beatles vs. the Four Seasons, which contained copies of Introducing... The Beatles in one pocket of the gatefold cover and Golden Hits of the Four Seasons (VJLP 1065) in the other. This Vee-Jay creation spent three weeks on the Billboard chart in October 1964 and peaked at #142.
Though Vee-Jay could not manufacture or distribute any Beatles product after 15 October 1964, it took a long time for the records to vanish from retail stores. Both Introducing... The Beatles and Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles remained on the Billboard LP chart until 9 January 1965.
On 22 March 1965, Capitol issued The Early Beatles, which contained 11 of the 14 tracks that had previously been issued on Vee-Jay. "Misery" and "There's a Place", two songs on Introducing... The Beatles, would not make their Capitol Records LP debut until 1980, on the U.S. version of Rarities.
Introducing... The Beatles has never been officially released on compact disc in America, although imported copies have circulated from other countries — in both mono and stereo versions, mostly with the Version Two line-up (with "Please Please Me" and "Ask Me Why").
It is interesting to note that the song "I Saw Her Standing There", which was first released in the U.K. on the Please Please Me LP, appeared in the U.S. on both the Vee-Jay album and Capitol's Meet the Beatles! LP. These two albums were initially issued almost simultaneously, marking the only time that two different Beatles albums, each from a different record label, were released at around the same time with one song appearing on both albums.
Introducing... The Beatles was the most counterfeited Beatles record of all. These counterfeits could be identified by the cover printing and quality, the label, or the sound quality. Such counterfeits can be identified by the cover claiming the record to be stereophonic though the record itself is actually monophonic. The counterfeits may have some differences from the commercial issue. These counterfeits could be easily found and distinguished from the commercial versions.
- "I Saw Her Standing There" (Paul McCartney counting "one, two, three" is omitted; recording starts with "four")
- "Anna (Go to Him)" (Arthur Alexander)
- "Chains" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King)
- "Boys" (Luther Dixon, Wes Farrell)
- "Love Me Do" ("Ask Me Why" on version two)
- "P.S. I Love You" ("Please Please Me" on version two)
- "Baby It's You" (Burt Bacharach, Mack David, Barney Williams)
- "Do You Want to Know a Secret"
- "A Taste of Honey" (Ric Marlow, Bobby Scott)
- "There's a Place"
- "Twist and Shout" (Phil Medley, Bert Russell)
- The Beatles
- George Harrison — guitar, vocals
- John Lennon — guitar, harmonica, vocals
- Paul McCartney — bass guitar, vocals
- Ringo Starr — drums, vocals
- George Martin — producer
- ↑ Spizer 2007, p. 256.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Spizer 1998, p. 110.
- ↑ Spizer 2004, p. 34.
- ↑ Spizer 1998, p. 118.
- ↑ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 17.
- ↑ Schultheiss 1981, p. 56.
- ↑ Wallgren 1982, p. 145.
- ↑ Spizer 1998, p. 120.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Spizer 2004, p. 36.
- ↑ Spizer 2004, p. 40.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Spizer 2004, p. 96.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Spizer 2004, p. 97.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 Spizer 2004, p. 98.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 357.
- ↑ Wallgren 1982, p. 147.
- ↑ Spizer 2004, pp. 102–111.
- ↑ Spizer 1998, pp. 138–145.
- ↑ Spizer 2004, p. 110.
- ↑ Spizer 1998, p. 132.
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 Spizer 1998, p. 161.
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 Wallgren 1982, p. 156.
- ↑ Spizer 1998, p. 169.
- ↑ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 358.
- ↑ Daniels 2002.
- Castleman, Harry; Podrazik, Walter J. (1976). All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961-1975
. New York: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-25680-8.
- Daniels, Frank (1 May 2002). "The Beatles Before Capitol, Part 4". http://www.friktech.com/btls/bc4.htm.
- Schultheiss, Tom (1981). The Beatles: A Day in the Life
. New York: Quick Fox. ISBN 0-8256-3229-3.
- Spizer, Bruce (1998). Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles Records on Vee-Jay
. New Orleans: 498 Productions. ISBN 0-9662649-0-8.
- Spizer, Bruce (2004). The Beatles Are Coming! The Birth of Beatlemania in America
. New Orleans: 498 Productions. ISBN 0-9662649-9-1.
- Spizer, Bruce (2007). The Beatles Swan Song: "She Loves You" and Other Records
. New Orleans: 498 Productions. ISBN 978-0-9662649-7-5.
- Wallgren, Mark (1982). The Beatles on Record
. New York: Fireside. ISBN 0-671-35682-2.
- Bruce Spizer's Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles Records on Vee-Jay website
- The Beatles on Vee-Jay Records