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The Beatles Album Covers



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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.


Let It Be - Ethan Russell/John Kosh

When the album with the material from the sessions, recorded in January 1969, finally was released in May 1970 the back cover noted: "This is a new phase BEATLES album ... essential to the content of the film, LET IT BE was that they performed live for many of the tracks; in comes the warmth and the freshness of a live performance; as reproduced for disc by PHIL SPECTOR."

With the work of Phil Spector everything was changed. The album got it's new title, a new cover was designed and there was nothing that reminded of the original Get Back anymore.

It was felt that the picture taken by Angus McBean no longer was up to date. So some other photo was needed, but by now the Beatles had, in fact, split up and no one was interested in anything that was "Beatles" anymore. A photo session was out of the question.

John Kosh, who was responsible for designing the package, assembled four independent pictures against a black background. The photos were taken by Ethan A. Russell, during the film recordings in January 1969. On the back cover there were four more black-and-white pictures, the above text, plus a red Apple logo, marking the end of the Beatles.

Let It Be back cover - Ethan Russell/John Kosh

In the U.K. the thirteenth and final official Beatles album was first issued as a box set. The box set included a 164-page book with lots of text and hundreds of colour photos. The book was placed in a custom die-cut and recessed cardboard holder which held the LP on top. All of which was encased in an outer slipsleeve.

Let It Be boxed set - Ethan Russell/John Kosh

The large paperback, called "The Beatles Get Back" contained stills and dialog from the film printed on high quality glossy paper. The photographs were by Ethan Russell, and the text by Rolling Stone writers Jonathan Cott and David Dalton.

Get Back book - Ethan Russell/John Kosh/Jonathan Scott/David Dalton

The L.P. had a standard dark green Apple label. This is one of the nicest Beatles LP packages out there. The initial price of this box set was £2:19s:11d, in the U.K.. Currently a complete box set is worth about £200.

For the second British pressings, half a year later, the box set and book were dropped. In it's place came a standard album release. Even the red apple was gone, and replaced with the usual green one.

In the U.S., the album was issued with a gate fold cover with more pictures… and a red label. No box, no book.

Let It Be USA Fold out cover - Ethan Russell

After the split, and certainly after the ending of the contract with EMI-Capitol in January 1976, both record companies released some compilations suffering from an apparent random choice of songs, incorrect liner notes and atrocious cover art. But the Beatles themselves no longer had any involvement with these records.


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