Oddball Beatles EPs Worldwide

Last month’s surprising (and under-reported) research results pertaining to The Beatles’ controversial association with K-Tel, I assumed, had tapped the well of Beatledom dry.  So imagine my surprise when Zero to 180 researchers poked at 45Cat’s database with a stick and stumbled upon a treasure trove of curious and, at times, downright baffling decisions regarding Beatles 45 and EP releases in “foreign” markets around the world.

Thailand takes the proverbial cake, in terms of audacity, style, and sense of the absurd — with not a single vinyl offering having enjoyed input from EMI or The Beatles whatsoever.  My favorite find among these brazen bootleg releases on Thailand’s Coliseum label is an EP that features four tracks from 1968’s ‘White Album (all of them unusual song choices), but it’s the picture sleeve that wins a prize for sheer daffiness:

Musical Misspellings!   “The Beatle” (singular) + “warm gum”

Beatles 45 Thailand-aa

As one of the 45Cat catalogers notes, this EP enjoys the distinction of being the only appearance of “Martha My Dear” on a non-LP Beatles release.  Only Finland would see fit to include “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” on a (legitimate) 45, while “Glass Onion” would remain an album track solely (if you exclude this unauthorized EP from Iran).  “Savoy Truffle” very nearly suffered the same fate — until Mexico’s outsized fondness for George Harrison manifested itself in this impressive assemblage of four (count ’em, four) George tracks released in 1971, one year after the band had called it quits.

Guinness record for number of George songs on Beatles non-LP release

Beatles EP - Mexico-aa

Actually, that same year Apple Mexico would issue four additional George-packed EPs, particularly notable for the Beatle whose first and only A-side — 1969’s “Something” — had come near the end of the Beatles’ recording career (where his output would be limited to one song per album side):

Beatles EP - Mexico-bbBeatles EP - Mexico-ddBeatles EP - Mexico-cc

Needless to say, this is the sole non-LP appearance ofPiggies” (above, endearingly misspelled), while the picture sleeve below is a rare use of the Sgt. Pepper image on an EP that includes but one track from pop music’s most revolutionary album.

Mexico Salutes George Harrison:  fifth & final EP

Beatles EP - Mexico-eeGeorge’s “I Me Mine” would forever be confined to the Let It Be album, except in Mexico, where the song would be included on a 1972 EP, (also noteworthy for including album-only track “One After 909“), while Venezuela would go one step further by being the only country to issue this waltz on a 45.  Also noteworthy is a planned-but-never-issued 5-song EP for the UK market of what would have been the only non-LP appearance of George track “It’s All Too Much.”

Nice to see that Mexico — who would take credit for the only authorized non-LP issue ofYer Blues” — also has a soft spot for Ringo, as this hand-picked set of tracks clearly indicates:

Beatles EP - Mexico-ffSpeaking of Ringo, this has got to be a first and only one of its kind:  A solitary Beatle (rendered as a cartoon, no less) as the cover image for a Beatles EP issued by Odeon Bolivia in 1965.

Beatles EP - Bolivia-aaaApple Mexico’s casual use of Sgt. Pepper tracks on other 1971 EPs (“Lucy in the Sky,” as well as “Help From My Friends,” and album showstopper, “A Day in the Life“) would seem to be unparalled among EMI affiliates while, at the same time, oddly sacrosanct.  And for some quirky reason, it is Italy – not the UK – who enjoys the distinction of having issued the world’s only Sgt. Pepper 45 the year of the album’s release.

Odeon Spain’s 4-track EP is remarkable for being, essentially, a Sgt. Pepper sampler that includes “Lovely Rita” – the only authorized such use of that track, as well as the magical “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”  Odeon Argentina would enjoy similar distinction for its own 1967 Sgt. Pepper EP that is notable for including “Fixing a Hole” and “Good Morning Good Morning.”

FLEXI-DISC!  Says 45cat:  “DESIGNED TO BE SOLD IN VENDING MACHINES

Beatles flexi-disc - US 1969

Must point out that the Sgt. Pepper EP released on Thailand’s TK label is almost certainly not the work of the band — the bizarro song selection [“All You Need Is Love”; “Lovely Rita”; “Baby You’re a Rich Man”; “Things We Said Today”] being a major tip-off.  As 45Cat contributor Tylerl notes with exasperation on the world’s behalf:

“Why ‘Things We Said Today’??  Weird.  Needed ‘For the Benefit of Mr Kite’ instead.  It’s not on any 45 or EP worldwide.  Sad.”

(Bam-Caruso also hits it on the head with his observation “another strange Thailand EP with an inspired sleeve.”)

Sgt. Pepper EP – but with only one track from the album!

Beatles EP - Thailand-ddBeatles EP - Thailand-ee

“Strawberry Fields Forever” is one of those monumental A-sides from AM radio’s golden age — and yet Odeon Japan would do the unthinkable, when the label made the tragic and misguided decision in 1967 to dilute the song’s seismic impact by leading off instead with a throwaway track from the previous year (“Bad Boy”) that sounds considerably out of its depth.

Beatles EP - Japan-aA recent documentary tribute toHey Bulldog,” the group’s last true collaborative effort, would note the song’s exclusion from single release during the band’s lifetime — a factual statement, if you ignore the track’s inclusion on a 1969 EP issued by Thailand renegade label, Coliseum.

the famous Yellow Submarine cover, and yet only one track from the album!

Beatles EP - Thailand-aa

Thailand’s labels would, indeed, take liberties with not only song selection but cover design, as well.  For instance, the band depicted on the 1968 EP below most definitely is not the same group that recorded “Sexy Sadie” (Lennon, by this point, wearing a beard and “granny” spectacles) and “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey.”

“Rock” Raccoon

Beatles EP - Thailand-bb

Note, too, this 1968 EP’s use of a still image from the iconic “I Am the Walrus” sequence in 1967’s Magical Mystery Tour film for a collection of ‘White Album‘ tracks!

Beatles EP - Thailand-cc

The only EMI-authorized issue of “I Dig a Pony” on a non-LP released during the band’s lifetime, meanwhile, is what secures Bolivia’s place in Beatles history (ditto for “Bungalow Bill,” “Julia” & “Me and My Monkey“).  But it’s Brazil (and no one else) who issued “Dear Prudence” on a 7-inch, while only Nicaragua would dare to include “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” on a 45 (ditto “Cry Baby Cry“).

sole authorized use of “Dig It” on non-LP release:  1972 MEXICAN EP

Beatles EP - Mexico-gg

Fascinatingly, Jamaica alone would enjoy authorized use of “Sexy Sadie” on a non-LP issue, while Venezuela would have bragging rights over its singular selection of “Wild Honey Pie” for 45 release.

“I’ve Got a Falling”:  1970 MALAYSIAN EP

Beatles EP - Malaysia-bbHowever, no one can top Portugal as the only country authorized to include the ultimate Beatles psychedelic track – “Tomorrow Never Knows” – on a vinyl platter whose diameter measures less than one foot (sorry, Iran – I don’t think you got permission).

Beatles EP - Portugal-aa Happy to see the distribution of Beatles recordings reach the African countries of Nigeria, Kenya, Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Angola, Rhodesia [Zimbabwe], and South Africa, as well as countries in the Middle East, including United Arab Republic, Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel, plus such Eastern Bloc nations as East Germany, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia.

Can’t tell if EMI had a hand in this 1965 EAST GERMAN 45 release

Beatles 45 - East Germany-aEncore bootleg EP
Thailand Loves The Beatles

Beatles EP - Thailand-fff

Jimi Hendrix on a K-Tel Album?

It still boggles my mind that Ronco somehow found a way to compile an album featuring tracks from top pop acts – Jimi Hendrix, Buffalo Springfield, The Beatles, and the Byrds – one would not normally associate with TV-advertised hits labels, such as Ronco.

Jimi Hendrix – third artist listed after The Beatles

Do It NowIn light of this knowledge I began to wonder:  Is it possible Jimi Hendrix has appeared on a K-Tel album?

Answer — Yes!  K-Tel Japan would include “Purple Haze” on 1971’s 20 Dynamic Hits – an album that would also feature a Beatles track (admittedly, 1961’s “My Bonnie” with singer, Tony Sheridan).

Jimi Hendrix on a K-Tel album cover!

K-Tel's 20 Dynamic Hits-a

“Purple Haze” would also turn up on 2-LP release, Superstars of the 70’s (K-Tel Japan), as well as 1983’s Heavy (K-Tel Australia).

Superstars of the 70s-JapanK-Tel's Heavy

K-Tel Netherlands would include “The Wind Cries Mary” on 1975 release K’Tel’s Gold Rock.

“Wind Cries Mary” = Side Two, Track Six

K-Tel's Gold Rock - Netherlands 75That same year, K-Tel UK & Ireland would include “Hey Joe” on British Gold.

K-Tel's British Gold“Hey Joe” would also be pressed into service for 1973’s Story of Pop Vol. 2 (K-Tel UK), as well as 1984’s Masters of Rock (K-Tel Germany).

(Left) Note the misspelling of Jimi               (right) 2nd Hendrix photo on K-Tel LP!

K-Tel's Story of Pop - Vol IIK-Tel's Masters of Rock-Germany

K-Tel UK & Ireland would also see fit to include “All Along the Watchtower” on 1986 release Rock Anthems II.

K-Tel:  “TV Advertised”

K-Tel's Rock Anthems 2

Perhaps the strangest release of all would be K-Tel Australia’s The Legend of Hendrix album (date unknown).

3rd known photo of Hendrix on a K-Tel album cover

K-Tel's Legend of Hendrix18 tracks in all – note the curious decision to include a Noel Redding composition, “She’s So Fine”:

1. Hey Joe
2. Purple Haze
3. The Wind Cries Mary
4. Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
5. Stone Free Again
6. All Along The Watchtower
7. Foxy Lady
8. Voodoo Chile
9. Crosstown Traffic
10. Fire
11. Like A Rolling Stone
12. Ezy Rider
13. Freedom
14. Johnny B Goode
15. Blue Suede Shoes
16. Gypsy Eyes
17. Angel
18. She’s So Fine

“She’s So Fine”     Noel Redding’s Jimi Hendrix Experience     1967

Of course, all of this begs the question — why no Hendrix tracks on US K-Tel releases?  Was Warner Brothers afraid that the appearance of a Hendrix track on a K-Tel album might inflict damage on his viability in the marketplace, given the snobby rock press?

The Beatles on K-Tel:  A Neglected History

K-Tel, by the way, would pull another Beatles stunt, with the inclusion of (the Bert Kaempfert-produced) “Ain’t She Sweet” – recorded 1961 in Hamburg – on 1974’s K-Tel’s Pop Greats (K-Tel Germany), as well as 1975’s Flashback Fever (K-Tel Canada), and 1981’s 14 Grandes Exitos (K-Tel Argentina).

K-Tel album featuring “Los Beatles”!

K-Tel's 14 Grandes Exitos - Argentina LP

“My Bonnie,” likewise, would show up on 1973’s K-Tel’s Story of Pop (K-Tel UK), as well as 1975’s K-Tel’s British Greats (K-Tel Germany).  Also worth pointing out that 1978 album, Explosion 60 (K-Tel Spain), appears to be the only K-Tel collection to feature The Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout.”

“My Bonnie” on this 1972 4-LP set = only US K-Tel LP Release to feature The Beatles!

K-Tel's 60s Flash-Back GreatsThe Stones on K-Tel:  The Truth Is Out There

1982 would prove to be the year the band made the momentous decision that permitted K-Tel UK/Ireland to sell a 2-LP (mostly monophonic) “greats”-only package, Story of the Stones, in Great Britain, as well as Spain, Portugal and (“unofficially”) Japan and Singapore.

K-Tel's Story of the Stones-front coverK-Tel's Story of the Stones-aK-Tel's Story of the Stones-bK-Tel's Story of the Stones-c

Track listing:  any quibbles, Stones fans?

K-Tel's Story of the Stones-rear cover

The following year, the Stones’ Organization then made the staggering decision to allow “Satisfaction” the honor of kicking off K-Tel’s Best Party Album in the World — a various artists release that would also include “Get Off My Cloud”!

K-Tel's Best Party Album-cover

Any Other Ronco LPs with Hendrix Tracks?

Q:  Besides Do It Now, are there any other Ronco LPs that feature Jimi Hendrix tracks?
A:  Yes!  “All Along the Watchtower” would join 43 of its closest friends for Ronco UK’s soundtrack to the film, Stardust, from 1974.

Ronco's Star Dust Soundtrack LPRonco's Sound Explosion - Hendrix

Additionally, in 1974 Ronco Netherlands would release 44 Golden Hits of the Sixties, a 2-LP set that included (you guessed it) “All Along the Watchtower.”

Ronco's 44 Golden Hits of the Sixties LPFinally, “Red House” would be included on two Ronco releases – 1977’s The Super Groups – 20 Explosive Hits! (Ronco UK) and 1979’s 20 Rock Legends (Ronco UK).

Ronco's The Super Groups LPRonco's 20 Rock Legends LP

By the Way…?

What is “All Along the Watchtower” doing on 1969 “CBS Special Products” Australia LP 20 Power Hits?  Wasn’t Polydor Hendrix’s label for Experience releases in Australia?

20 Power Hits

Columbia’s Great Gaffe:  Ladyland vs. Landlady:

In 2016, Heritage Auctions (“the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer”) sold two acetates of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland album — note that the Columbia label for the left image reads “Electric Landlady“(!)

double-Click on image for Super-maximum resolution

Jimi Hendrix - Electric Landlady acetates

“Electric Landlady”:  Inspiration for Kirsty MacColl’s 1991 album

Jimi Hendrix Electric LandladyNote the Billboard chart listing (“Electric Landlady“) for the week of October 19, 1968 + October 26, 1968 [Dave Michaels of ‘Progressive Rock’ WOXY in Oxford, Ohio] + November 2, 1968 [Barry Richards of ‘Progressive Rock’ WHMC, Gaithersburg, MD].

Mad Mag’s Multi-Groove Flexi-disc

Remember the Las Vegas Roulette record with the “multi-groove” in which the tonearm stylus randomly selects (at least, in theory) one of 38 separate grooves – one for each slot on the roulette wheel – so as to allow partygoers the ability to play roulette from the comfort of home?   That’s right, you, too, can be the croupier.    *(Link to original piece)

Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette LP-jrIn 1980, Mad Magazine would pull off an even more ambitious vinyl feat:  a “multi-groove” flexi-disc!   45Cat’s 23skidoo rightly emphasizes:

“A random groove record.  A different ending (usually) is heard each time the record is played.  Very rare for a flexi-disc to have this feature.”

“It’s a Super Spectacular Day” [all 8 endings]    Frank Jacobs & Norm Blagman    1980

45Cat lists Mad Magazine flexi-discs from 19611981

I am grateful to have had a neighbor growing up who allowed me to borrow freely from his 1960s collection of Mad Magazines — the best educational supplement a kid could ask for.

Mad Mag-sing along-a+Mad Mag-sing along-b+

Check out the hyper-minimalist animation video that Casey Killingsworth created for the 1980 disco update of Mad’s 1961 belch-rock hit, “It’s a Gas!”

The “Rock Revolution” as seen through the lens of Mad Magazine:  1965-1968

Mad Mag-guitar-a+Mad Mag-beatles 68-a

In 2011, someone would fork over $100 for a vintage copy of Mad’s debut (and only) LP.

     Beatles                            vs.                         Stones, man

Mad Mag-ringo+Mad Mag-jagger+mag

Beatles vs. Stones:  1-0

On February 7, 2014 Mad Magazine would post the following announcement:

“Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America!  And in order to thoroughly commemorate, celebrate, salute and pay tribute to this historic event, we present the only time that all four Beatles appeared on our cover [September, 1968 cover above with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi] — which is still one more MAD cover than the Rolling Stones ever had!”

Mad Magazine’s Don Martin gets in on the act

Mad Mag-beatles 65+

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Arif Mardin @ Muscle Shoals

Arif Mardin is a renowned producer, arranger, and music executive who also – surprisingly enough – recorded a couple solo albums for Atlantic.  This hard-hitting instrumental arrangement of Lennon’s “Glass Onion” (from the Beatles’ “White Album“) would be used as the (1) kick-off tune, (2) title track, and (3) debut single for Arif Mardin as a solo artist:

“Glass Onion”     Arif Mardin     1969

Wait a minute, it’s 1969:  wasn’t Arif Mardin legally obligated to record this album in Muscle Shoals using local musicians?  Billboard confirmed this to be true in its August 9, 1969 edition:

“Five musicians — Jimmy Johnson, guitarist; Eddie Hinton, guitarist; David Hood, bassist; Roger Hawkins, drummer; Barry Beckett, keyboards — have grouped to open the new Muscle Shoals Sound Studios at 3614 Jackson Highway.  They have already backed up Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, and Sam & Dave, as well as Arif Mardin’s Glass Onion album for Atlantic.”

Arif Mardin solo LPThe Guardian ‘s Garth Cartwright points out the album’s ageless appeal in his 2006 obituary for Mardin:

In 1969 he released the first of two solo albums, Glass Onion, whose relaxed jazz flavours found British popularity in 1996 when the song ‘How Can I Be Sure?’ became a UK lounge hit in clubs.

In 1974 Mardin was paired with a struggling Scottish soul group, the Average White Band.  His production emphasised their bright brass and dynamic rhythms, taking them to the top of the US album and singles charts.”

Beatles 1967 Trivia Funfest!

It only occurred to me recently that legendary 1967 Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s, did not yield a single 45 – the only (legitimate) Beatles album to do so.  The greater truth, however, is that (1) “Strawberry Fields” b/w “Penny Lane” would have been included on the album had the band not have felt pressured to release these two tracks as a single to maintain their standing in the marketplace and (2) Italy, of all places, just might be the one and only country to issue a single in 1967 using Sgt. Pepper material:  the title track as the A-side with “A Day in the Life” (naturally) as the flip side [45Cat contributor informs us:  “juke box promo with unique edit of title track”].

The only 7-inch Sgt. Pepper single release from 1967?

Beatles Italian 45Other fun and interesting Beatle-related moments from 1967 would likely include:

= This whimsical German 45 picture sleeve, whose design gets high marks for creativity:Beatles 45-e= This Italian 45, whose picture sleeve is likewise imaginative and befitting of the music:

Beatles 45-l= This South African 45 picture sleeve, conversely, whose depicted moptop is easily (and hysterically) two years behind the beat:

Beatles 45-h= These two other German singles, whose photos are strangely and humorously out of sync with the song titles listed on the picture sleeves:

Beatles 45-a1Beatles 45-a1a

= This Norwegian single, whose playful design features Beatle Sgt. Pepper heads cut by hand using pre-digital technology:

Beatles 45-c = This Argentinian single, whose “Penny Lane” would require no translation, while its flip side – “Strawberry Fields Forever” – would find itself re-titled, amusingly, as “Frutillas!

Beatles 45-bbBeatles 45-b

= This picture sleeve for the “Hello Goodbye” / “I Am the Walrus” single that was issued, fascinatingly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

Beatles 45-f= This Yugoslavian 45 picture sleeve, whose design accurately conveys the historic importance of “Our World” – the first live international satellite television production, for which The Beatles performed “All You Need Is Love” – albeit in an oddly quaint Soviet style:

Beatles 45-dThis Bolivian EP for “Penny Lane” and “Frutillas”, whose sleeve wins (by a whisker) the award for least accurately depicting the artists themselves at the time of release:

Beatles 45-iSadly, no one told Austria that “go go” was out, and “hippie” was now officially in:

Beatles 45-j