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Yellow Submarine (album)

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Beatles Yellow Submarine album cover art
The Yellow Submarine movie had been floating around cinemas for a good half a year by the time the soundtrack LP was eventually launched in January '69.

All of the Beatlesongs which made up its first side had been mastered prior to it (the title-track from Revolver and George's brace from the Pepper) sessions, and "All You Need", though there are variations between the soundtrack and album versions. American listeners must have also been a little puzzled by the inclusion of "Hey Bulldog", having been cut from the movie release there. "It's all in the mind..."

George Martin's adaptations from his Grammy nominated original score, which make up side two, were the only new recordings the album actually included. There can be no accusations of Mr Bos'n not going 'full steam ahead', either: he appears to have knocked 'em off in a couple of days, very shortly after the final White sessions.

I suspect that the release was delayed in order to distance it from said double, which — on the British version — got a mini-review on the back of the sleeve for some obscure reason. Sailing across to America, it was replaced by a mock-epic account of the Sergeant's Band's clash with the Blue Meanies. Nothing is real... Oh yeah — that little strawberry subtitle was omitted on the Capitol issue, too.

The Beatles posing with a model of the Yellow Submarine
The film was universally acclaimed as a masterpiece of psychedelic animation — and rightfully so. Though The Beatles had very little to do with it apart from their closing guest appearance, filmed just before they jetted off to Sadie's place, (unless you believe John's fisherman's tale about how the scriptwriters stole every single word from him), it captured their stereotypes to perfection: and — by crikey — the accents were considerably better than they were in the cartoon series.

The album, on the other hand, was received with rather less enthusiasm on both sides of the Sea of Green. Perhaps due to the paucity of new material, it is generally considered to be the weakest of the band's official releases. The Beatles themselves were less than delighted with its classification as an official LP, and had tried to limit it to an EP of the 'new' (i.e., previously unreleased) songs. On CD, it was rendered fairly obsolete by the 1999 issue of the YS Songtrack, featuring remixed versions of fifteen Beatle tunes which had appeared in the movie in some form or another.

It's a nice little collection, to be sure, but I did feel it was a little sad that Mr Martin eliminated his own compositions. Menaced by Meanies, perchance? Whilst side two of Yellow Sub is undoubtedly the least-played of any Beatles LP, the symphonic sections form an integral part of the film's atmosphere: "they do, though, don't they?" I'm no classical music bod, but I've always had a lot of affection for his orchestral evocations of the drama and humour of the trip. Who knows, perhaps they will be digitally restored in the proposed 3D-CG remake.

For fans of GM's easy-listening versions, the US release of A Hard Day's Night included some of his instrumental interpretations of Beatlesongs. He also issued a compilation album entitled Off The Beatle Track, followed by his own Help! LP.

God bless you, Sir George: they can play your stuff in my elevator any time at all!

But — "by Neptune's knickerbockers" — I seem to have steered off course and heading. Quick — all aboard, down the hatch and push a button somebody...

...Oops — not that one!

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