Yesterday and Today (rendered as "Yesterday...and Today" on the record label and in most published discographies) is the ninth Capitol release by The Beatles and the eleventh overall American release. It was issued only in the United States and Canada. The album is remembered primarily for the controversy surrounding its original cover image, the "butcher cover" featuring the band dressed in white smocks and covered with decapitated baby dolls and pieces of meat. The album's title is based on the song "Yesterday". Early album cover proofs show the word "Yesterday" in quotes
Yesterday and Today compiled tracks from the Beatles' two most recent British LPs which had not yet been included on American albums, plus three from their upcoming UK LP:
- from the UK LP Help!, the tracks "Act Naturally" and "Yesterday" (earlier issued by Capitol as a single)
- from the UK LP Rubber Soul, the tracks "Nowhere Man" and "What Goes On" (also earlier issued by Capitol as a single), plus "Drive My Car" and "If I Needed Someone".
- both sides of the single "Day Tripper" / "We Can Work It Out"
- from the upcoming UK LP Revolver, the tracks "I'm Only Sleeping", "Doctor Robert", and "And Your Bird Can Sing", issued here in duophonic mixes (see below).
The hodgepodge nature in which Capitol Records compiled their albums irritated the group, who felt they had "put a lot of work into the sequencing" of the British versions.
Apart from the butcher cover, the Yesterday and Today album is of interest to collectors for the appearance of unique mixes unavailable on CD. Until 2009, the Help! and Rubber Soul tracks were not available in their original 1965 mixes. Because of Capitol Records' haste to release new product, duophonic ("fake stereo") mixes of "Dr. Robert," "And Your Bird Can Sing," and "I'm Only Sleeping" were made from the original USA mono mixes made on May 1966 and were treated with a degree of compression and reverb not found elsewhere. On the stereo mix of "Day Tripper", the guitar intro is heard on the left channel and jumps into the right channel (and has John's extra "yeah" on the first chorus). On the stereo LP, "We Can Work It Out"'s harmonium is moved to the centre during the refrain and the bridge.
Pressings by the Capitol Records Club and all tape copies have the Revolver tracks in true stereo. Some later pressings (1973 onwards) can be found with the tracks in either true stereo or duophonic.
Release and receptionEdit
Released in June 1966, the Yesterday and Today album's controversial cover marked the first time the Beatles' judgment was severely criticised by the media and public alike. Nevertheless, the album reached #1 on the US Billboard charts by 30 July 1966 and certified gold soon after.
The "Butcher cover"Edit
In early 1966, photographer Robert Whitaker had the Beatles in the studio for a conceptual art piece entitled "A Somnambulant Adventure." For the shoot, Whitaker took a series of pictures of the group dressed in butcher smocks and draped with pieces of meat and body parts from plastic baby dolls. The group played along as they were tired of the usual photo shoots and the concept was compatible with their own "black humour". Although not originally intended as an album cover, the Beatles submitted photographs from the session for their promotional materials. According to a 2002 interview published in Mojo magazine, former Capitol president Alan W. Livingston stated that it was Paul McCartney who pushed strongly for the photo's inclusion as the album cover, and that McCartney reportedly described it as "our comment on the war". A photograph of the band smiling amid the mock carnage was used as promotional advertisements for the British release of the "Paperback Writer" single. Also, a similar photograph from this shoot was used for the cover of the 11 June 1966 edition of the British music magazine Disc.
In the United States, Capitol Records printed approximately 750,000 copies of Yesterday and Today with the same photograph as "Paperback Writer". They were assembled in Capitol's four US plants situated in different cities: Los Angeles, California; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Winchester, Virginia; and Jacksonville, Illinois. Numbers designating where the covers originated were printed near the RIAA symbol on the back; for example, stereo copies from the Los Angeles plant are designated "5" and mono Los Angeles copies are marked "6". Mono copies outnumbered stereo copies by about 10 to 1, making the stereo copies far more rare and valuable to collectors. A small fraction of the original covers were shipped to disc jockeys and store managers as advance copies. Reaction was immediate, as Capitol received complaints from some dealers. The record was immediately recalled under orders from Capitol parent company EMI chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood and all copies were ordered shipped back to the record label, leading to its rarity and popularity among collectors. It has been substantiated that the record was indeed for sale in some stores, including Wallich's Music City in Hollywood and some Sears stores, in limited areas and probably for only one day.
Capitol initially ordered plant managers to destroy the covers, and the Jacksonville plant delivered most of its copies to a landfill. However, faced with so many jackets already printed, Capitol decided instead to paste a much more conventional cover over the old ones. The new cover, featuring a picture of a less-than-content band posed around an open steamer trunk, had to be trimmed on the open end by about 1/8 inch because the new sheet, known as a "slick", was not placed exactly "square" on top of the original cover. Tens of thousands of these so-called "Trunk" covers were sent out. As word of this manoeuvre became known to the public, owners of the altered cover attempted, usually unsuccessfully, to peel off the pasted-over cover, hoping to reveal the original image hidden beneath. Eventually, the soaring value and desirability of unpasted-over Butcher covers spurred the development of intricate and complex techniques for peeling the Trunk cover off in such a way that only faint horizontal glue lines remained on the original cover.
Copies that have never had the white cover pasted onto them, known as "first state" covers, are very rare and command the highest prices. Copies with the pasted-on cover intact above the butcher image are known as "second state" or "pasteovers"; today, pasteover covers that have remained unpeeled are also becoming increasingly rare and valuable. Covers that have had the Trunk cover removed to reveal the underlying butcher image are known as "third state" covers; these are now the most common (and least valuable, although their value varies depending on how well the cover is removed) as people continue to peel second state covers. The most valuable and highly prized First and Second State Butcher Covers are those that were never opened and remain still sealed in their original shrink wrap.
In 1987, then-president of Capitol Records, Alan Livingston released for sale twenty-four "first state" butcher covers from his private collection. When the original cover was scrapped in June 1966, Livingston took a case of already-sealed "Butcher" albums from the warehouse before they were to be pasted over with the new covers, and kept them in a closet at his home. These albums were first offered for sale at a Beatles convention at the Marriott Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport on Thanksgiving weekend 1987 by Livingston's son Peter. These still-sealed pristine items, which included nineteen mono and five stereo versions, are the very rarest "pedigree" specimen "Butcher Covers" in existence. These so-called "Livingston Butchers" today command premium prices among collectors, the five stereo versions being the most rare and valuable of these. In April 2006, Heritage Auction Galleries sold one of the sealed mono "Livingston Butchers" at auction in Dallas for about $39,000.
Capitol Records of Canada vice president and A&R head at the time Paul White kept a mono cover and a stereo cover slick for his collection.
At the time, some of the Beatles defended the use of the Butcher photograph. John Lennon said that it was "as relevant as Vietnam" and McCartney said that their critics were "soft". Ringo Starr has said that it was a commentary on how Capitol Records "butchered" their original albums. However, this opinion was not shared by all band members. George Harrison thought the whole idea "was gross, and I also thought it was stupid. Sometimes we all did stupid things thinking it was cool and hip when it was naïve and dumb; and that was one of them." Capitol Records apologised for the offence. Yesterday and Today was the only Beatles record to lose money for Capitol.
There were no cassette versions of the Yesterday ...and Today "Butcher Cover". 8-track tapes were issued approximately one month after the vinyl album was released in 1966 and cassette tapes were not issued by Capitol Records until 1968.
All songs are credited to Lennon/McCartney, except where noted.
- Side one
- "Drive My Car" – 2:30
- "I'm Only Sleeping" – 3:01
- "Nowhere Man" – 2:45
- "Doctor Robert" – 2:15
- "Yesterday" – 2:08
- "Act Naturally" (Morrison-Russell) – 2:33
- Side two
- "And Your Bird Can Sing" – 2:01
- "If I Needed Someone" (George Harrison) – 2:24
- "We Can Work It Out" – 2:15
- "What Goes On" (Lennon-McCartney-Richard Starkey) – 2:51
- "Day Tripper" – 2:50