The Beatles on Vee-Jay? Score! Wait, not so fast.
My first albums were hand me downs from my aunt. Mixed in with the Elvis, Standells, and Mamas and the Papas were Meet the Beatles, Rubber Soul, Beatles ’65, and Songs, Pictures of the Fabulous Beatles. The latter was the coolest of the bunch courtesy of its half gatefold cover: The black portion you see above opened up to expose bios of each of the Fab Four, which in in my little four year-old head was like a magic trick. Rubber Soul may have been my favorite album, but I loved this package.
I was a teenager before I learned that Songs, Pictures… was sort of rare. A record store buddy was digging through my stacks when he saw it and explained to me what Vee-Jay was, then he offered to buy it off of me. No way, Jose! That’s a chunk of my childhood! Shortly after that, my sister reclaimed our aunt’s Beatles records. As kids we’d agreed that I got the Elvis and she got the Beatles, so I had no choice but to pony up. Fair’s fair.
Fast forward a few years, and I found a copy of Songs, Pictures… in a record store for just a couple bucks. It didn’t have a gatefold cover, but that was okay — at least I finally had a copy. When I got it home, I noticed the title: Songs and Pictures of the Fabulous Beatles. For years I’d been calling it Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles. Where did the “stories” go? And that wasn’t the only change. My copy included “From Me to You,” a song that I didn’t remember being on my childhood copy. What the heck? I’d always thought that my memory for musical minutiae was pretty good, but I’d completely flubbed this one, or so I thought.
The truth was that I’d stumbled upon a bootleg reproduction of Songs, Pictures….. The weasels did a pretty good job with their copy, with exception to the title, the lack of gatefold, the contrast on the printing, and the track listing. A reasonable person may have been disappointed to discover that he’d purchased a fake, but I was thrilled. Not only did I get a get a good story, but I could continue my hunt for a clean copy of the real Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles.
Record geeks are weird.
For as little as ten bucks you can add your own “you are not looking at what you think you are looking at” story to your stacks. Happy hunting.