Tuesday, September 11, 2007

You can't escape it, because it runs rampant...so here we have:
Political-Correctness, applied to BEATLES collecting!

During even the earliest days of their existence, their HAIR wasn't politically correct, but that's not the subject of this post. Nor does it deal with John Lennon's REALLY politically-incorrect 'Beatles more popular than Jesus' remark in 1966...nor does it deal with John and Yoko's NUDE picture on their "Two Virgins" album which came out in early 1969. And that was REALLY politically-incorrect. John and Yoko's were not two of the most appealing human bodies in existence, as the album cover (painfully) proves...

This has more to do with Beatles' collecting...perhaps as a kid, when Beatlemania struck, you went down to the nearest record mart and bought a copy of "I Want To Hold Your Hand", and chances are you paid under a dollar for it. Most copies of it came in a little picture sleeve, and chances are, that picture sleeve, by itself, is worth over $100 in today's collectors market. That doesn't include the worth of the single; that's just the sleeve. Record and sleeve originally came out in 1964, and the picture sleeve that came with most copies of the record is shown below...


Actually, their hair wasn't really all that long waaay back then, but everyone (including my own parents) sure made a big deal of it. Especially my Dad, who sheared off my hair every chance he could get to make sure I didn't turn into one of those "damn Beatles" (a phrase he actually used). Home haircuts like that can be traumatic. Anyway, the photo on this sleeve is innocent enough, right? Nothing wrong with it, right? Well, when it came time for the 20th anniversary re-issue of the single, and sleeve, the record company evidently DID think something was wrong...

This is the 1984 collectors' edition of the "I Want To Hold Your Hand" picture sleeve. Notice anything different? Well, for starters, the cigarette Paul was holding in his right hand has been AIRBRUSHED OUT for this release. Gosh. Also, you can see some small print in the left corner, which says "copyright 1984". And when I first got this item, I couldn't believe the record company went to all that trouble. Further, I can imagine the tobacco lobby was not pleased with this move. And, without a cigarette in his hand, Paul looks like he's ready to karate-chop someone.

In 1994, a 30th anniversary re-issue of this single appeared, and guess what? This time around, the cigarette was back IN the sleeve photo. Does that mean it was more politically-correct to smoke in 1994 than it was ten years previously? And, then in 2004, NO REISSUE of this single appeared at all! So, the cigarette's in. Then it's out. Then it's back in again. And then it never existed to begin with. Makes sense to me! I was hoping there'd be a 40th anniversary re-issue. And then a 50th. And in the year 2107, perhaps a 150th anniversary IPod/Mp3 download, or whatever. And I think I'd better stop now before this ceases to make sense...assuming it did to begin with...

Those old Beatles songs still sound so incredibly fresh and vital...in spite of their painfully human shortcomings, which they ALL put on display from time to time, they sure were a great band, with or without picture sleeves accompanying their singles.


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