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A Review of The Beatles' Vee Jay Record "Songs, Pictures, and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles"
Vee Jay's Promotional Beatles EP
Vee Jay Records' Originally Released As "Introducing The Beatles"
The Beatles' First U.S. Album Not "Meet The Beatles!"
Many people think the first American Beatles album was "Meet The Beatles!" however, this is not true. The first US Beatles’ record was recorded in 1963 by a small recording company in Chicago, Illinois called Vee Jay Records.
My parents had the 45 rpm (single) "P.S. I Love You" backed with "Love Me Do" on Tollie Records. Actually it was really "Love Me Do" on the A side and "P.S. I Love You" on the B side, but I always thought "P.S. I Love You" was a better song. Paul's voice was amazing.
Actually, this entire collection of songs is excellent: I give it 5 stars. Every song, including the songs written by other artists, is very well performed; these are very good quality recordings -- especially for the time. Another great thing about this album is you don't have to be a Beatles fan to enjoy this. It is just good music played by one of the most influential bands of all time. Enjoy!
Radio, Television & Magazines
As a huge Beatles/Paul McCartney fan I read a lot about The Beatles throughout my life -- long before the Internet was available. I read anything I didn’t have to buy: I borrowed books from the library or quickly ran through articles about them in magazines while waiting for my parents to finish grocery shopping. Sometimes they were even on television – this is how we fans got updated. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: we also listened to the radio.
The Beatles Were Everywhere
I grew up with The Beatles in my ears and in my eyes, on the walls and so on. You really could not go far without either seeing their image on a billboard or hearing them singing on the radio. It was Beatlemania.
My sister, Vivian, was a huge Beatles fan, she taped photos of all four of them (cut out from teen magazines) on our bedroom walls and closet doors. She was 14 years old when they arrived in America; I was only four.
By the time I was five I already knew Paul was my favorite Beatle.
Loved By Parents-- Not Just Teens
“Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles” was a family favorite -- yes, even our parents loved The Beatles' music. Music was not just for the teenagers anymore. The Beatles crossed all barriers; it seemed that nothing could stop them from rising to the top-- and they did.
Beatlemania erupted all over America (Click to Tweet) making it difficult for record store managers to keep Beatles' records in stock.
Everything from Beatles’ memorabilia, wigs, boots, lunch boxes, trading cards, coloring books, scrapbooks, Halloween costumes, rings, and about anything you could think of had their logo or their picture on it and was selling very well.
My sister bought a Beatle wig and two of my brothers had to have Beatle boots!
I was only 4 in 1964, but I was sharp enough to notice that something was happening here, but it was happening mostly to teenagers.
Inside the Gatefold Cover of "Songs, Pictures, and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles"
Repackaged Versions: "Introducing The Beatles" & "The Early Beatles"
"The Early Beatles" Nothing New
I used to go shopping with my mom all the time when I was about nine years old, and as soon as we got inside the store I would wander over to the Record Department to check and see if there were any new releases I needed for my collection. If I saw a new Beatles album cover I'd look at the back to check what songs were on it.
I saw "The Early Beatles" and checked the listings on the back. Disappointed, I put the album back, thinking, “Well, I have all the songs already”...The only different songs it had were “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” -- but we had that same single on Tollie records, so there was nothing new here.
So, not wanting to pay full-price for just an album cover, I was forced to keep waiting until Capitol released some Beatles songs I didn't already have.
All Time Favorite
“Introducing The Beatles” has always been one of my favorite Beatles' albums. When I was five years old I used to sit on the rocking chair in our front room and listen intently to every song.
My dad used to be so amazed that every song on almost all the Beatles' albums were good! He was used to buying an album, and after listening to it finding out that he only liked two songs on each side. This was perfectly normal back then-- and it still is today for most bands.
Several Versions of This Song Collection
There are several different versions of this particular set of songs, but “Songs, Pictures and Stories of The Fabulous Beatles” is the one I am referring to for this review because it is the one I have. (I refer to it as “Introducing The Beatles” but the one I have is actually titled “Songs, Pictures, and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles” -- the songs are the same except for two songs but the album covers are totally different.
Favorites On This Album
Some of my favorites from this set are “Misery”, ”Anna (Go To Him)”, ”Ask Me Why” and “I Saw Her Standing There”, however, all of these songs are excellent.
As you listen to this album, let your mind wander back to a simpler time: 1964. Black and white TV, mono records, Beatles' wigs and boots, and girls fainting and screaming hysterically….
Here's The Beatles' Vintage Record, "Songs, Pictures & Stories of the Fabulous Beatles"
Vee Jay: Promo Portrait of The Beatles
Song Credits for "Songs, Pictures & Stories of the Fabulous Beatles"
All songs on this album that were written by John and Paul read "McCartney-Lennon" on this (VeeJay) label -- instead of the usual "Lennon-McCartney.
Six of the songs on this album were not written by The Beatles. The six songs and their authors/writers are:
- Anna: By Arthur Alexander
- Chains: By Gerry Goffin & Carole King
- Boys: By Luther Dixon and Wes Farrell
- Baby it’s You: By Burt Bacharach, Mack David, and Barney Williams
- A Taste Of Honey: By Ric Marlow and Bobby Scott
- Twist And Shout: By Phil Medley and Bert Russell
The Beatles' Souvenir Song Album
A Quick Review of “Songs, Pictures & Stories of The Fabulous Beatles”
Here are all the songs from the album and a brief description of each song:
1. I Saw Her Standing There (McCartney-Lennon): This song also appears on “Meet The Beatles!” and is the opening song for this album. Instead of the usual “One, two, three, fah!” We only hear Paul count “fah!” then the song begins, “Uh, well, she was just 17…” This song was released as the B-side to “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
2. Misery (McCartney-Lennon): “The world is treat-ing me ba-a-a-ad mis-ery.” This song has always been one of my personal favorites. I love the melody, the strum of the guitars, and especially, Paul’s vocal. The song title ("Misery") prepares you for a sad story, but the music is upbeat and sounds "happpy-go-lucky; I thought this strange, yet amusing.
3. Anna (Arthur Alexander): This song is sung tenderly by John, but the chorus is what most of us remember best: “You give back your ring to me - and I will set you free: Go with Him - (Anna)- Go with him (Anna)."
4. Chains (Gerry Goffin & Carole King): This song is a typical “tin pan alley” formula-song-- very popular in those days. John plays the opening harmonica, and George takes the lead vocals. In my opinion, this song is okay, but not one of their best songs; but back then it was all about dancing.
5. Boys (Luther Dixon-Wes Farrell): Ringo used to sing this energetic song while playing his drums and shaking his head -- and hair! The girls just went crazy! For a while Ringo was getting the most fan mail!
6. Ask Me Why (McCartney-Lennon): The lead guitar is a little jazzy, and played beautifully in this syncopated rhythm. John sings the lead, ”Ask me why, I say I love you--and I'm al-ways think-ing of you-woo-woo-woo..." A beautiful ending-song to Side 1.
1. Please Please Me(McCartney-Lennon): John plays the anthem lead-in on his harmonica, and then sings: “Last night I said these words to my girl.." The entire song is great, I especially like the part "Come on (come on) ... Please please me, whoa yeah, like I please you..." Please Please Me was a big hit for The Beatles in the U.K, and it also did very well here in the United States.
2. Baby it’s You (Burt Bacharach-Mack David, Barney Williams): John does an amazing rendition of this classic song, while Paul and George sing background vocals: “Sha-la-la La-la-la…”
3. Do You Want to Know A Secret? (McCartney-Lennon): George sings lead on this one, “Listen (do-la-do) Do you want to know a secret?(do la do)...” My friends and I used to sing this song a lot as kids, along with some of the songs from “A Hard Day’s Night.”
4. A Taste Of Honey (Ric Marlow, Bobby Scott): Paul sings this song beautifully, as usual. This version is very nicely done, and a big improvement on previous renditions of this song.
5. There’s a Place (McCartney-Lennon): John and Paul sing together on much of this song: “There’s a place -- Where I can go-- when I feel low - when I feel blue--…” There's A Place is is an energetic, fast-paced song, that was also one of their first local hits.
6. Twist And Shout (Phil Medley, Bert Russell): John intentionally sang all the previous night to thrash his throat, so he could get it raspy (hoarse) sounding when he recorded this song.
This album is really short, as far as time goes. But, back in the early 1960s many of the songs averaged between 2:00 to 2:30 minutes.