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 left-field song choices – but it’s the picture sleeve that wins a prize for sheer daffiness:
“The Beatle” (singular) + “warm gum”
As one of the 45Cat catalogers notes, this 1968 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) 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
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):
Needless to say, this is the sole non-LP appearance of “Piggies” (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 from 1971
Harrison’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 of “Yer Blues” — also has a soft spot for Ringo, as this hand-picked set of tracks from 1971 clearly indicates:
Speaking 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.
Apple 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 sacrilegeous. 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 (albeit, a jukebox promo).
Odeon Spain’s 4-track EP is remarkable for being, essentially, a Sgt. Pepper sampler from 1968 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, notable for including “Fixing a Hole” and “Good Morning Good Morning.”
Flexi-Disc! Says 45cat:
“Designed to be sold in vending machines“
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.”)
Thailand’s Sgt. Pepper EP —
only one track from the album, however
“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.
A recent documentary tribute to “Hey 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 —
only one track from the album, however
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.”
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!
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:
(with “Lady Madona” & “Paper Back Writter”)
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“:
However, 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).
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
Encore bootleg EP!
Thailand Loves The Beatles
I think “The Banana Splits” should sue the Beatles for unauthorized use of their image.
Hi, can you give me any leads where I can buy or purchase the beatles picture sleeves 45s belgian congo presses from the late 1960s? Is there a specific record dealers? Thank you for your time, dave.