Beatles Material Still Missing From Streaming Services: Here's What You Need to Know
You can head home, Santa. The Beatles' culture-shifting catalog is finally available on music streaming services (yes, including Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal), so Christmas came early and there's really no need for follow-up presents from you.
Unless, that is, you're capable of getting ALL the Beatles' material on streaming services. Yes, even though the Fab Four's proper U.K. studio album catalog -- plus the odds-and-ends collections Past Masters Vols. I & II -- are now at your fingertips, there's still plenty of Beatles material not on any of the streaming services.
And we're not talking about obvious omissions such as live albums, BBC sessions collections, the Anthology series, Let It Be…Naked or the Cirque du Soleil mashup mix Love. We're rounding up Beatles material that's missing that you might not even know about.
Read on for a rundown.
The absence of mono editions of Beatles LPs isn't going to concern most people, or most Beatles fans for that matter. The stereo mixes of the U.K. versions of their albums became the default Beatles discography since the onset of the CD era, so it's what most listeners -- even those who had the original mono LPs -- are used to at this point. Regardless, some diehards point to the fact that while the Beatles were typically quite involved with the mono mixing of their albums, their input on the stereo versions of those albums -- including the landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band -- is disputed. To those purists, the mono versions are truer to the Beatles' artistic intentions and therefore preferable.
Still, the Beatles' albums were released in both mono and stereo versions back in the day -- so the stereo versions of every album back to their debut, Please Please Me, are every bit as official as the mono ones.
Should You Care? Probably not, but for completists, it's worth noting that some mono versions -- such as "Don't Pass Me By" and "Helter Skelter" on The Beatles -- are quite different than the more familiar stereo versions. If you're an obsessive, you can read more about the differences here.
U.S. Versions of Songs
The history of the Beatles' discography is fairly complicated. Although A Hard Day's Night, Help! and Rubber Soul got U.S. releases (albeit with altered tracklists), Americans were getting entirely different Beatles LPs for most of the group's first few years. And even when Revolver hit -- after which the release schedule of U.S./U.K. Beatles albums matched up -- the tracklist was different on that album. Several U.S.-only albums (Meet the Beatles!, Something New, Beatles '65 and more) only made it to CD in the 21st century, and sure enough, those albums aren't on any of the streaming services.
Which is fine: the Beatles' U.K. albums are the proper releases they put together as a band, and they are infinitely preferable to the cobbled-together American editions. Still, completists should note that a few of the mixes on the U.S. albums are quite different than the U.K. ones -- "When I Get Home" has a noticeably louder piano in the U.S. mix, for instance (again, this isn’t the version the Beatles approved). Aside from U.S. album variations, an early U.S. promo single of "Penny Lane" featured more piccolo trumpet at the song's close. This rare version was available on the vinyl-era Beatles comp Rarities, another collection not currently streaming.
Should You Care? Meet the Beatles! (which was the second U.S. Beatles LP, but more ubiquitous than the first) remains of immense historical importance. So if you need to know how Americans first fell in love with the Fab Four, make a playlist (all the Meet the Beatles! tunes are streaming) and experience the album that way. But for the most part, the absence of U.S. versions just means that bastardized versions aren't available -- and unless you're an obsessive completist, there's no need to add those to your collection.
Between 1963 and 1969, members of the Beatles' fan club received vinyl records featuring skits, Christmas songs and even original material from the quartet. Most of these songs are just sketches, but "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)" -- a composition credited to all four, but centered on a George Harrison chorus -- is close to a legitimate song. While these are official Beatles releases, they're not exactly considered canon -- and with the exception of the aforementioned tune, none of them ever made it to CD officially.
Should You Care? Yes and no. Yes, because it's a treat to hear John, Paul, George and Ringo delivering off-the-cuff messages to fans and Christmas carols. But in terms of this material being streamed right now, no. While you might question why the Anthology series didn't make it to streaming services, you can't fault anyone for the absence of the Beatles' Christmas records. These obscurities have never received a proper release treatment outside of the initial fan club pressings, and the Beatles, for their part, seemed to regard them dismissively. These need remastering and a proper re-release compilation before they hit Spotify.