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The Beatles' UK album covers

by Patrick Roefflaer

For the writing of this article I have used information found in the following books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder.

Furthermore I found interesting information on countless websites.

GET BACK (UNRELEASED)


Get Back album (unreleased) - Angus McBean

In the mindset of the 'back to the roots feeling' of the January 1969 sessions, it was decided that the cover for Get Back should be similar to that of their first album, Please Please Me. The photograph would produce a remarkable side-by-side comparison of how much the four men had changed in those six intervening years.

Angus McBean was commissioned to make an exact replica of that famous first cover. He recalled the occasion: "(In 1963) I asked John Lennon how long they would stay as a group, and he said, "Oh, about six years, I suppose – who ever heard of a bald Beatle?". Well, it was just six years later that I was asked to repeat the shot with the Beatles as they now looked – very hairy indeed. When I got there I couldn’t retake the shot; a new porch had been built and I couldn’t get into the same position. However, EMI asked if I could come back in a week. Meanwhile, the whole new porch was pulled down and we tried again. Ringo Starr was so late that the staff of EMI was streaming down the stairs. I got the camera fixed up and John, fascinated by photography, came and lay down beside me to look at my view-finder. I can still hear the screams of the EMI girls as the realized who they were stepping over to get out the door!"

The photo session took place on 13 May 1969 at 6pm.

This new shot saw the Beatles take up virtually identical positions to the 1963 photos. At least three different pictures were taken:

  • the cover of the test pressings with the title: Get Back;
  • the cover of the collections The Beatles 1962-1966 and The Beatles 1967-1970;
  • the cover of a bootleg, with both John and George wearing different suits.


    Get Back bootleg


    Get Back poster


    Blue Album (1967-1970)

    The first version of the Get Back-Album was ready for release at the end of May 1969. Promotional copies were made, including a full cover art. It was intended for release in July 1969 under the title of GET BACK with Don't Let Me Down and 9 other songs.

    In July 1969 the album was rescheduled for September 1969, to appear together with the planned TV special and theatrical film about the recording of the album.

    In September the album was rescheduled again for December, because The Beatles had recorded Abbey Road in the meanwhile and wanted to release that album instead of Get Back, in which no member of the Beatles was really interested anymore.

    As time went on, the film about Get Back was completed and it became obvious, that there were some recordings in the film, that weren't featured on the album. So the already completed album was shelved again and on January 5, 1970, Glyn Johns compiled a second version for the Get Back album. The cover art wasn't changed, only the title was altered, due to the fact that 'Let It Be' was planned to be the next single.

    Ultimately, the cover was unused. After the band had broken up Phil Spector was given the tapes by John and Allen Klein to rework.

    The McBean shoot however wasn't wasted, as this was eventually used on the 1973 compilation "Red" and "Blue" albums.


    Collector's card

    Click on an album cover to read about it:


                               


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