Yesterday and Today

Yesterday and Today

The controversial original "butcher" cover
Studio album by The Beatles
Released 20 June 1966[1]
Recorded 1965–1966,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 27:33
Language English
Label Capitol
Producer George Martin
The Beatles American chronology
Rubber Soul
Yesterday and Today
Revised cover
A new cover was pasted over the original after the "butcher" cover resulted in controversy.
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars [2]

Yesterday and Today (rendered as "Yesterday" ...and Today on the record label and in most published discographies) is the ninth Capitol release by The Beatles and the eleventh overall American release. It was issued only in the United States and Canada. The album is remembered primarily for the controversy surrounding its original cover image, the "butcher cover" featuring the band dressed in white smocks and covered with decapitated baby dolls and pieces of meat. The album's title is based on the song "Yesterday". Early album cover proofs show the word "Yesterday" in quotes.[3] Yesterday and Today was the only Beatles record to lose money for Capitol.[4]



Yesterday and Today compiled tracks from the Beatles' two most recent British LPs which had not yet been included on American albums, plus three from their upcoming LP in the United Kingdom:

The hodgepodge nature in which Capitol Records compiled their albums irritated the group, who felt they had "put a lot of work into the sequencing" of the British versions.[7]

Apart from the butcher cover, the Yesterday and Today album is of interest to collectors for the appearance of unique mixes unavailable on CD. Until 2009, the Help! and Rubber Soul tracks were not available in their original 1965 mixes. Because of Capitol Records' haste to release new product, duophonic ("fake stereo") mixes of "Dr. Robert", "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "I'm Only Sleeping" were made from the original US mono mixes made on May 1966 and were treated with a degree of compression and reverb not found elsewhere. On the stereo mix of "Day Tripper", the guitar intro is heard on the left channel and jumps into the right channel (and has John's extra "yeah" on the first chorus). On the stereo LP, "We Can Work It Out"'s harmonium is moved to the center during the refrain and the bridge.[8] The mono mixes on "Dr. Robert", "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "I'm Only Sleeping" are also different from the ordinary UK mixes released on Revolver. For example, in the US mono of "I'm Only Sleeping", the backwards guitar doesn't come in until the line "taking my time". "Dr. Robert" lasts longer than the 2:13 time given on the label; John Lennon is heard to say either "OK Herb" or "Hey there" at the end during the fade-out of the mono version only. Also the chorus sections in the US mono version have different vocals and extra percussion. The hand-claps on "And Your Bird Can Sing" are louder.

Pressings by the Capitol Records Club and all tape copies have the Revolver tracks in true stereo. Some later pressings (1973 onwards) can be found with the tracks in either true stereo or duophonic.

Release and reception

Released in June 1966, the Yesterday and Today album's controversial cover marked the first time the Beatles' judgement was criticised by the media and distributors. Nevertheless, the album reached #1 on the US Billboard charts by 30 July 1966 and certified gold soon after. It stayed at number one for five weeks.

The "Butcher cover"

In early 1966, photographer Robert Whitaker had the Beatles in the studio for a conceptual art piece entitled "A Somnambulant Adventure." For the shoot, Whitaker took a series of pictures of the group dressed in butcher smocks and draped with pieces of meat and body parts from plastic baby dolls. The group played along as they were tired of the usual photo shoots and the concept was compatible with their own "black humour".[7] Although not originally intended as an album cover, the Beatles submitted photographs from the session for their promotional materials. According to a 2002 interview published in Mojo magazine, former Capitol president Alan W. Livingston stated that it was Paul McCartney who pushed strongly for the photo's inclusion as the album cover, and that McCartney reportedly described it as "our comment on the war".[9] A photograph of the band smiling amid the mock carnage was used as promotional advertisements for the British release of the "Paperback Writer" single. Also, a similar photograph from this shoot was used for the cover of the 11 June 1966 edition of the British music magazine Disc.[4]

In the United States, Capitol Records printed approximately 750,000 copies of Yesterday and Today with the same photograph as "Paperback Writer".[4] They were assembled in Capitol's four US plants situated in different cities: Los Angeles, California; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Winchester, Virginia; and Jacksonville, Illinois. Numbers designating where the covers originated were printed near the RIAA symbol on the back; for example, stereo copies from the Los Angeles plant are designated "5" and mono Los Angeles copies are marked "6". Mono copies outnumbered stereo copies by about 10 to 1, making the stereo copies far more rare and valuable to collectors. A small fraction of the original covers were shipped to disc jockeys and reviewers as advance copies. Reaction was immediate, as Capitol received complaints from some dealers. The record was immediately recalled under orders from Capitol parent company EMI chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood[10] and all copies were ordered shipped back to the record label, leading to its rarity and popularity among collectors.

At the time, some of the Beatles defended the use of the Butcher photograph. John Lennon said that it was "as relevant as Vietnam" and McCartney said that their critics were "soft".[4] However, this opinion was not shared by all band members. George Harrison (who became a vegetarian) was quoted as saying that he thought the whole idea "was gross, and I also thought it was stupid. Sometimes we all did stupid things thinking it was cool and hip when it was naïve and dumb; and that was one of them."[7] Capitol Records apologised for the offence.

Capitol initially ordered plant managers to destroy the covers, and the Jacksonville plant delivered most of its copies to a landfill. However, faced with so many jackets already printed, Capitol decided instead to paste a much more conventional cover over the old ones. The new cover, featuring a picture of the band posed around an open steamer trunk, had to be trimmed on the open end by about 3 mm (1/8 inch) because the new sheet, known as a "slick", was not placed exactly "square" on top of the original cover. Tens of thousands of these so-called "Trunk" covers were sent out. As word of this manoeuvre became known to the public, owners of the altered cover attempted, usually unsuccessfully, to peel off the pasted-over cover, hoping to reveal the original image hidden beneath. Eventually, the soaring value and desirability of unpasted-over Butcher covers spurred the development of intricate and complex techniques for peeling the Trunk cover off in such a way that only faint horizontal glue lines remained on the original cover.

Copies that have never had the white cover pasted onto them, known as "first state" covers, are very rare and command the highest prices. Copies with the pasted-on cover intact above the butcher image are known as "second state" or "pasteovers"; today, pasteover covers that have remained unpeeled are also becoming increasingly rare and valuable. Covers that have had the Trunk cover removed to reveal the underlying butcher image are known as "third state" covers; these are now the most common (and least valuable, although their value varies depending on how well the cover is removed) as people continue to peel second state covers. The most valuable and highly prized First and Second State Butcher Covers are those that were never opened and remain still sealed in their original shrink wrap. Since the first documented collector's sale of a mono Butcher cover LP in 1974, which fetched US$457.00, the value of first state mono versions has consistently appreciated by around 100% per year.[11]

In 1987, former president of Capitol Records, Alan Livingston released for sale twenty-four "first state" butcher covers from his private collection. When the original cover was scrapped in June 1966, Livingston took a case of already-sealed "Butcher" albums from the warehouse before they were to be pasted over with the new covers, and kept them in a closet at his home. These albums were first offered for sale at a Beatles convention at the Marriott Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport on Thanksgiving weekend 1987 by Livingston's son. These still-sealed pristine items, which included nineteen mono and five stereo versions, are the very rarest "pedigree" specimen "Butcher Covers" in existence. These so-called "Livingston Butchers" today command premium prices among collectors, the five stereo versions being the most rare and valuable of these. In April 2006, Heritage Auction Galleries sold one of the sealed mono "Livingston Butchers" at auction in Dallas for about $39,000.[12]

An extremely rare original "first state" stereo copy that was not from the Livingston collection was presented for appraisal at a 2003 Chicago taping of the PBS series Antiques Roadshow. It was still in the possession of the original owner, who had bought it at Sears & Roebuck on the day of release in 1966, the only day that the original Butcher cover versions were on sale before being recalled by Capitol. Although not in its original shrink-wrap, it had rarely been played and was still in excellent condition, and Roadshow appraiser Gary Sohmers valued it at US$10,000 - $12,000.[9]

Capitol Records of Canada vice president and A&R head at the time Paul White kept a mono cover and a stereo cover slick for his collection.[10]

There were no music tape versions of the Yesterday ...and Today "Butcher Cover". 8-track tape & Reel to reel tapes were issued approximately one month after the vinyl album was released in 1966 and cassette tapes were not issued by Capitol Records until 1968.

Track listing

All songs are credited to Lennon–McCartney, except where noted.

Side one
  1. "Drive My Car" – 2:30
  2. "I'm Only Sleeping" – 3:01
  3. "Nowhere Man" – 2:45
  4. "Doctor Robert" – 2:15
  5. "Yesterday" – 2:08
  6. "Act Naturally" (Morrison–Russell) – 2:33
Side two
  1. "And Your Bird Can Sing" – 2:01
  2. "If I Needed Someone" (George Harrison) – 2:24
  3. "We Can Work It Out" – 2:15
  4. "What Goes On" (Lennon–McCartney–Richard Starkey) – 2:51
  5. "Day Tripper" – 2:50


  1. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. p. 201. ISBN 0-517-57066-1 
  2. ^
  3. ^ McGeary. "The Beatles' Internet Beatles Album". Retrieved 9 October 2007 
  4. ^ a b c d Schaffner, Nicholas. (1977). The Beatles Forever, Harrisburg, PA: Cameron House. ISBN 0-8117-0225-1, 55
  5. ^ Schaffner, Nicholas. (1977). The Beatles Forever, Harrisburg, PA: Cameron House. ISBN 0-8117-0225-1, 205-209
  6. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Yesterday ...and Today Overview". Retrieved 19 January 2006.
  7. ^ a b c The Beatles. (2000). The Beatles Anthology, San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books LLC. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8, 204-205
  8. ^ "The Beatles' Song Variants". Archived from the original on 16 September 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2007 
  9. ^ a b Gaffney, Dennis (27 October 2008). "Antiques Roadshow | Follow the Stories | The Beatles' "Butcher" Cover | PBS". Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Butcher cover, Canadian - Paul White Letter". Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Butcher Cover first state sealed mono value chart".$.htm. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  12. ^ "Beatles "Yesterday And Today" Livingston Copy Sealed First State Mono "Butcher Cover" LP Capitol 2553 (1966). Yes, it's a ... (Total: 1 ) Music MemorabiliaRecordings". Retrieved 18 August 2011. 

External links

Preceded by
Strangers in the Night by Frank Sinatra
Billboard 200 number-one album
30 July – 2 September 1966
Succeeded by
Revolver by the Beatles

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