I've always held a torch for this forgotten American compilation - a stopgap between September 1969's "Abbey Road" and the wait for the 'new' and final Beatles album - "Let It Be" in May 1970. And while American fans have grown up with the 10-track "Hey Jude" retrospective as if it were the most natural thing in the world (essentially a chronological line-up of non-album singles from 1964 to 1969) - British fans rarely saw 1970 UK originals because of their rarity.
The original vinyl album was US-released 26 February 1970 on Apple SW 385 – a common record in secondhand bargain bins across the USA for decades to come (some re-pressed copies titled it "The Beatles’ Again"). But in England it was initially 1970 released as an 'Export Only' LP with the super rare Parlophone CPSC 106 catalogue number (laminate sleeve as opposed to the American card issue). No one seems to know how many of these were pressed for 'Export Only' but it wasn't vast. Hence the biggest band in the world had a rarity that now clocks in at a whopping £600 in the 2018 issue of the Record Collector 'Rare Record Price Guide'. Its official UK issue to Joe Public didn't inexplicably come until the end of the decade on Apple PCS 7184 - released 21 May 1979 - nine years after the event. It was quickly deleted and that pressing has also been hard to find ever since too. Which brings us to the digital age...
"Hey Jude" and its history on CD has been the subject of countless bootlegs (some with bonus tracks) - until now. Using the 9 September 2009 Remasters - at last EMI/Capitol has reissued all of the American-configured albums in "The U.S. Albums" Box Set - released 21 January 2014. If you don't want the large and expensive Box - each has been given an individual issue too (except "The Beatles Story" which is exclusive to the Box Set). While most of the CDs in that Box Set contain the Mono and Stereo variants of their American LPs - only "Hey Jude" and "The Beatles' Story" are presented in STEREO only. So what we have here is a Repro of the 10-track LP as originally released in the spring of 1970. Here are the 'Christ you know it ain't easy' details...
US released 21 January 2014 - "Hey Jude" by THE BEATLES on Apple B0019710-02 (Barcode 602537643738) is a straightforward 10-track CD reissue of the 1970 American compilation LP (aka "The Beatles Again") in STEREO only and plays out as follows (33:24 minutes):
1. Can't Buy Me Love
2. I Should Have Known Better
3. Paperback Writer
5. Lady Madonna
7. Hey Jude [Side 2]
8. Old Brown Shoe
9. Don't Let Me Down
10. The Ballad Of John And Yoko
As you can see from the photos provided below - the repro is an accurate depiction of Apple SW 385. There's an OBI strip with the 50th Anniversary logo (the Box set was issued to celebrate the British band's earth-shattering first visit to America in February 1964) and a plain white inner bag with the SW 385 catalogue number. But disappointingly there are no liner notes or booklet. But that all pales because what gets me is the 'listen'...
People raved about the 'Red' and 'Blue' double-albums when they were released in 1973 - the way the tracks were so brilliantly configured on each 2LP set - non-album single sides following choice album cuts. With "Hey Jude" you get the same feeling - a label cash-in and stop-gap filler that so works. The way "Paperback Writer" follows the Side 1 openers "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I Should Have Known Better" shows a line of creative growth that's staggering. The next three cleverly keep up that 'anything can happen next' momentum with the guitar-jangle of the lesser heard "Rain" - the non-album British B-side of "Paperback Writer" in June 1966.
We then leap to March 1968 with the UK A-side "Lady Madonna" - a genius and witty Beatles piano-song that allows Macca to have some fun with lyrics like 'creeping like a nun' while the boys bah-bah-bah behind some brass. The Apple side ends with the monster guitars of Lennon's stunning "Revolution" - a hundred million light years away from the mop tops that charmed everyone in 1963 and 1964 (you know it's gonna be alright).
Side 2 opens with the full 7:10-minute majesty of "Hey Jude" – a McCartney ballad and the first worldwide Apple 7" single that to this day astonishes with its sheer staying power (rocking John held the B-side with "Revolution" - different to the two variants on "The White Album"). In fact British fab fans had to wait until May 1973 to get either "Hey Jude" or "Revolution" on an LP - the double Blue Album "1967-1970". George Harrison finally gets his moment to shine with the slightly throwaway "Old Brown Shoe" - while I've always argued that "Don't Let Me Down" would have elevated the "Let It Be" album into immortality and is the greatest B-side ever penned. Lennon brings wit and reality to proceedings with the deceptively brilliant "The Ballad Of John And Yoko" - Macca's counter vocal so damn good - and those hard-hitting truthful lyrics "...newspapers say she's gone to his head...they look like two gurus in drag...Christ you know it ain't easy...the way things are going...they're gonna crucify me..."
The Beatles were so grown up and yet so far apart (that photo on the rear sleeve) when this compilation hit the streets in a country that took them into their very souls.
"Hey Jude" is one of those knock-offs that works - and wouldn't John and George have loved that...