Hey Jude (original title: The Beatles Again) is a 1970 collection of non-album singles and B-sides by the Beatles. It included "I Should Have Known Better" and "Can't Buy Me Love", two singles released by Capitol Records whose only previous American album appearance had been on the A Hard Day's Night soundtrack album which had been released by United Artists Records. It is currently out of print.
Contrary to popular belief, the Hey Jude album was not compiled by Capitol; the project was conceived by Allen Klein and Apple Records. Klein had negotiated a more lucrative contract for the Beatles in 1969 and was anxious to sweeten the pot with an additional album. He directed Allan Steckler of Abkco/Apple to work on an album. Steckler chose songs that had not appeared on a Capitol album in the United States and which spanned the group's career. He also focused more on recent singles than on earlier material. The absence of the songs from a US Capitol album was partially a consequence of the Beatles' unwillingness to include single releases on their contemporaneous albums, partially a consequence of their arrangement with United Artists in 1964 and partially due to the habit (of EMI affiliates worldwide) of recompiling the Beatles' British releases for local markets. Steckler chose not to include "A Hard Day's Night", which had been released as a single by Capitol and was available on the United Artists soundtrack album, "I'm Down", which was the B-Side of "Help!", and "The Inner Light", which was the B-Side of "Lady Madonna". He also overlooked "From Me to You", "Misery", and "There's a Place", which were first issued in the US by Vee Jay Records but had not yet been issued on a Capitol album. "Sie Liebt Dich", a German-language version of "She Loves You", and the single version of "Get Back" were also ignored.
Steckler and Apple had become disappointed with the Capitol Records release schedules and determined to promote the new album themselves. Steckler also took the tapes to Sam Feldman at Bell Sound Studios (in New York), rather than delivering them to Capitol. He would do this for several releases thereafter.
Originally, the album was to be named The Beatles Again. Shortly before the record was released, however, the title was changed to Hey Jude in order to promote the inclusion of the top-selling song that led off side two. The name-change occurred after the labels were printed, and an untold number of copies of the album were sold with Apple labels on the vinyl containing the title The Beatles Again. This was also true for cassette copies of the album, which retained the original title. Neither the front nor the back of the album jacket displayed the record's title (or the name of the band), but most copies were sold in a jacket whose spine read Hey Jude. In an attempt to clear up any confusion caused by the preprinted labels, initial copies of the album displayed a sticker on the cover bearing the title Hey Jude. The edition of the album with The Beatles Again label bore catalogue number SO-385 on the label but not on the jacket. This is because of a similarly timed decision to reduce the price from $6.98 (SO- prefix) to $5.98 (SW- prefix). The record jacket was prepared late enough so that it lists the catalogue number as SW-385. The SW-385 catalogue number appears on the label of later pressings that bear the title Hey Jude on the label.
Klein authorised release of the album as a sales buffer during post-production of the delayed Let It Be. In 2007 Neil Aspinall claimed that the back cover was supposed to be the front cover and vice versa but that Klein had reversed them in error. This is not entirely true. At least three prototype cover designs are known to exist, with the earliest of those showing the photos "reversed." Apparently, the art department made the determination that the photo that now appears on the front cover was better suited for that purpose. Bruce Spizer's book, The Beatles on Apple Records, contains many previously unknown details about the release. The front and back cover pictures were taken at the last-ever Beatles photo session, on 22 August 1969, at John Lennon's new house, Tittenhurst Park.
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