Released: 22 March 1965
John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass guitar
George Harrison: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, tambourine, maracas, percussion
George Martin: celesta
Andy White: drums, percussion
The Early Beatles was the sixth Beatles album released by Capitol Records in the USA. It contained eleven songs originally released on the band’s UK debut Please Please Me.
Capitol had released a total of five Beatles albums in 1964, to cope with huge public demand: Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles’ Second Album, Something New, the documentary album The Beatles’ Story, and Beatles ’65. There was also the United Artists soundtrack album A Hard Day’s Night.
The Beatles’ first US album had been Introducing The Beatles, released by the smaller Vee-Jay label in January 1964. Vee-Jay had secured the rights to many of The Beatles’ earliest recordings after Capitol declined to release them in 1963.
Introducing The Beatles had an almost identical running order to Please Please Me – initial copies did not include ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘Ask Me Why’, although those songs were added in place of ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘PS I Love You’ from February 1964.
The Early Beatles, meanwhile, omitted three songs from Please Please Me: ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Misery’, and ‘There’s A Place’. ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ had already appeared on Meet The Beatles!, but the other two songs never appeared on Capitol albums in the US.
Vee-Jay’s licence to release Beatles music expired on 15 October 1964, and The Early Beatles came out on 22 March 1965. The cover photograph was taken by Robert Freeman in London’s Hyde Park, and originally appeared on the back cover of the UK album Beatles For Sale.
Capitol issued The Early Beatles in mono and stereo, although the mono version was a fold-down of the stereo mixes rather than using EMI’s mono mixes. However, since no stereo masters of ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘PS I Love You’ existed, the label used duophonic ‘fake’ stereo mixes for those songs on the stereo album.
Vee-Jay had previously issued a total of four albums, four singles, and an EP out of the sixteen Beatles tracks it had rights to release. Despite the ready availability of these releases, The Early Beatles sold respectably, although it went no higher than number 43 on the Billboard Top LPs chart. It was certified gold by the RIAA on 8 January 1974, and platinum on 10 January 1997.
The Early Beatles was first released on compact disc in the 2006 box set The Capitol Albums, Volume 2, which contained both stereo and mono fold-down mixes on one disc.
The album was issued on CD again in 2014, individually and as part of the box set The US Albums. Although that edition presented all the songs in stereo and true mono, it was not an authentic reproduction of the original release, and used instead the remasters from the UK albums.
Early birds all over the United States – millions of them – got the bug for the Beatles in the first weeks of 1964. The eleven great songs in this album were among those that launched the Beatles. They appeared then on another record label. They appear now for the first time on Capitol – added, with pride and pleasure, to the fine Capitol treasury of Beatles recordings which, together, constitute an unprecedented phenomenon of entertainment history.