Variations for Beatles’ ‘Yesterday And Today’ LP cause collecting confusion

By Susan Sliwicki

Given The Beatles’ popularity, it’s no surprise that Goldmine gets a lot of questions related to the band’s many records. But the one album that proves the most consistently confounding is “Yesterday And Today,” often is referred to by appearance — Trunk Cover or Butcher Cover — instead of its album title.

Not only are there two different cover images (and three different states of an original release), there were a lot of audio changes afoot at the time.

MONO VS. STEREO VS. PARTIAL STEREO VS. RECHANNELING

Before we dive into the visual aspects of “Yesterday And Today,” we need to get into the nitty gritty of sound recording. There were a lot of variations available back in the day, including:

Partial Stereo (P): A record listed as stereo, but only part of it was recorded in “true” two-channel stereo.

Rechanneled (RE): A recording listed as strereo, but it is all or almost all re-channeled, or “fake” stereo. These recordings were marked as Duophonic by Capitol and “Enhanced for Stereo” or “Simulated Stereo” by Decca, or may be referred to as electronically channeled stereo.” Typically, these recordings are less in demand and true mono recordings.

Both (B): An album that is listed as being in stereo, but it has some tracks in monaural sound, too.

Mono (M): A single-channel audio recording. Virtually all records made before the 1950s were in mono; many records were produced in mono until the late 1960s.
To put it in simple terms, mono is the audio equivalent to a traditional 2-D movie presentation or a photograph; stereo is like a  3-D painting or a sculpture. When you see the “P” abbreviation with a listing in Goldmine’s price guide, we are pointing out that it is what is known as a partial stereo recording. This is strictly about how the record was recorded and sounds (as opposed to a specific visual trait you can spot, like a misspelling on an album cover, or a certain design on a label).

Record labels tried several different techniques to achieve a “stereo” sound without actually recording the music in stereo in the first place. Why? For starters, it was much easier and cheaper to record in mono. If you wanted to record in mono, you only need one microphone for recording and one speaker for playback. But if you wished to record in true stereo sound, you needed to route the audio signals through two or more channels, so there is an aural perception of depth and direction. So, you would need to have two or more microphones placed in specific positions in order to capture the sound for the desired result. So in addition to having to buy more (and more expensive) equipment, the record label also needed to hire someone with greater training and skill, and needed to spend more studio time getting the setup right before anyone pressed the “record” button.

The  labels had different techniques (and brand names) for these synthesized stereo sounds. At Capitol, the Duophonic process was created to “fake” a stereo sound from a mono recording. Capitol accomplished this by splitting the bass frequencies into one channel, and the treble frequencies into the other. So, when you listened to a song that was presented in Duophonic sound, you got this synthesized stereo effect. (Sometimes, the label would also state that something was “re-channeled for stereo,” which basically meant it was a mono recording synthesized into stereo sound. (You might also see the term “Full Dimensional.) Later, Capitol rolled out its “New Improved Full Dimensional Stereo.” Capitol also was known to have a few tracks that were recorded in duophonic sound on the same album as others that were recorded in true stereo. Capitol used the ST designation in the catalog number regardless if the music was presented in true stereo sound or synthesized stereo sound.

United Artists (which released the soundtrack for “A Hard Day’s Night”) used a technique that involved panning the mono signal between the two speakers to achieve a synthesized stereo sound, which is what you would hear on the “stereo” “A Hard Day’s Night” soundtrack.

RCA used a technique where the one channel was run slightly later than the other, which produced an echo effect that simulates stereo. When I was younger, I could achieve pretty similar effect by syncing up the playback of an artist’s cassette tape of a song on an old-fashioned, single speaker tape recorder, and tuning into MTV (back when the M stood for Music and when TVs just had the one speaker at the front) when it was playing the video for the same song.

Columbia Records, which was making its recordings in true stereo at the time, made it a point to tell consumers that their records were made with “Stereo 360 Degree Sound.”

BUTCHER COVER VS. TRUNK COVER

Now, on to the appearance of the album cover. There are four distinct versions of the “Yesterday And Today” cover.

First State: When “Yesterday and Today” first was released, it was sent out to record shops with that infamous Butcher-themed image. If the album cover has the Butcher image and never had a sticker pasted on top of it, it is known as a First State cover. Some people have removed the stickers and tried to present peeled covers as being authentic First State issues. However, there are very few true First State covers out there, and given the time that has elapsed, the number of true First State covers that are in NM or better condition is very, very small.

Beatles Yesterday and Today Trunk Cover Capitol

This Still-Sealed, Second State “Butcher Cover” for The Beatles’ “Yesterday And Today” album (Capitol 2553) sold for $6,875 via Heritage Auctions on Dec. 6, 2014. The pristine copy also happens to be in the harder-to-find stereo version. Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions.

Second State: When people started flipping out over the album cover image that showed The Beatles dressed in white coats, posing with decapitated dolls and assorted hunks of meat, Capitol executives issued a recall for the album. When shops returned those records to the label, Capitol workers quickly modified each album’s cover by pasting a replacement front cover image over the top that showed The Beatles posing with John sitting atop an open trunk, Paul sitting inside it, and Ringo and George standing behind the trunk. “Yesterday And Today” album covers today that still have this sticker intact are deemed to be “Second State” Butcher Covers.

Beatles Butcher Cover Third State

This Third State Butcher Cover — which was sold along with its intact, original pasted-on, then peeled-off Trunk Cover — sold for $1,000 via Heritage Auctions on Dec. 6, 2014. The EX-condition cover on this stereo copy of Capitol 2553 has a red stain along the back right edge as well as general spine wear; the disc is in VG condition.

Third State: It’s human nature to be curious, and a lot of people who bought the album tried (with varying degrees of success) to remove the top image to see what the fuss was all about. Given that glue is inherently sticky, you can guess how this worked out much of the time. But there are some cases that were successful, and these are referred to as “Third State” covers, meaning that the cover went through three steps (it was created originally with the butcher cover, it got recalled and was re-covered with the trunk image by the factory, and then the owner later chose to remove the trunk image to reveal the original Butcher cover.) True Third State covers for “Yesterday And Today” will be about 3/16 of an inch narrower than other Capitol LPs.

Trunk Cover: When Capitol printed subsequent editions of “Yesterday And Today,” the new covers were printed directly with the Trunk image. While people will make reference to Second-State covers as “Trunk Covers,” because they show the trunk cover image, true Trunk Covers are those that were printed from scratch — new stock to replenish the stores after the pasted-over Butcher cover albums sold out. Capitol printed far more from-scratch trunk covers sleeves at the printer than it did the replacement cover slicks that were pasted over the Butcher cover albums. This is why the Trunk Cover variation is so much less valuable than the Second State variation.

WHY DO THESE DISTINCTIONS MATTER?

When you put the audio and visual factors together (along with other variations, like the design and color on the record label), you can see why values for this record are all over the map.

For instance, an earlier pressing of a Trunk Cover version (Capitol ST 2553, partial stereo, released in 1966) has age in its favor over the reissues and reprints made in the 1970s and 1980s. But it doesn’t have an intact Butcher cover liberated from beneath a stuck-on trunk cover, and it isn’t in mono, like Capitol T2553 (also released in 1966, but with a cover about 3/16 of an inch narrower than other Capitol Beatles LPs. The $1,200 version of “Yesterday And Today” is presented in the partial stereo sound, just like the $80 version is, but it features a Second State cover, meaning the original sticker is intact. GM

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