Yesterday and Today: Wikis


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Yesterday and Today

The controversial original "Butcher" cover
Studio album by The Beatles
Released 20 June 1966[1]
Recorded 1965–1966, Abbey Road Studios, London, England, United Kingdom
Genre Rock and roll, pop
Length 27:33
Language English
Label Capitol
Producer George Martin
Professional reviews
The Beatles American chronology
Rubber Soul
Yesterday and Today
Singles from Yesterday and Today
  1. "Act Naturally"/"Yesterday"
    Released: 13 September 1965
  2. "We Can Work It Out"/"Day Tripper"
    Released: 6 December 1965
  3. "Nowhere Man"/"What Goes On"
    Released: 21 February 1966
Revised cover
A new cover was pasted over the original after the "butcher" cover resulted in controversy.

Yesterday and Today (rendered as "Yesterday" ...and Today on the record label and in most published discographies) is the tenth Capitol release by the The Beatles and the twelfth overall U.S. 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 loosely based on the song "Yesterday". Early album cover proofs show the word "Yesterday" in quotes.[2]



"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 UK LP:

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.[5] Revolver and "Yesterday" and Today would be the last examples of this practice of differing track listings between UK and US Beatles LPs.

Apart from the butcher cover, the "Yesterday" and Today album is of interest to collectors for the appearance of unique mixes of Revolver-era tracks unavailable elsewhere. Because of Capitol Records' haste to release new product, "fake stereo" (i.e. duophonic) mixes of "Dr. Robert," "And Your Bird Can Sing," and "I'm Only Sleeping" were made from the original USA 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.[6]

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, "Yesterday" and Today album's controversial cover marked the first time the Beatles' judgment was severely criticised by the media and public alike.[7] Nevertheless, the album reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts by 30 July 1966 and certified gold soon after.

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".[5] 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".[8] 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.[9]

In the United States, Capitol Records printed approximately 750,000 copies of "Yesterday" and Today with the same photograph as "Paperback Writer".[9] They were assembled in Capitol's four U.S. plants situated in different cities: Los Angeles, California; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Winchester, Virginia; and Jacksonville, Illinois. Copies from the various plants may be easily differentiated by examining the number 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 valuable today. A small fraction of the original covers were shipped to disc jockeys and store managers as advance copies. Reaction was immediate, and Capitol received a storm of complaints from dealers. The record was immediately recalled and all copies were ordered shipped back to the record label, leading to its collectability. It has been substantiated that the record was indeed for sale in some stores, including Wallich's Music City in Hollywood and some Sears stores, in limited areas and probably for only one day.[10]

Capitol initially ordered plant managers to destroy the covers, and the Jacksonville plant delivered most of its copies to an area landfill. However, faced with so many jackets already printed, Capitol quickly changed course and decided instead to paste a much more conventional cover over the old one. The new cover, featuring a flipped picture (John's fringe was brushed in the opposite direction to that in which he usually wore it) of a less than content band posed around an open steamer trunk, had to be trimmed on the open end of the album jacket by about 1/8 inch to address problems where 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 made the rounds, people attempted, usually unsuccessfully, to peel off the pasted-over cover of their copy of the album, hoping to reveal the original image hidden below. Eventually, the soaring prices of 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 butcher cover beneath.

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 steamed or peeled off 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 to reveal the butcher image underneath. 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. In December 2005, Heritage Auction Galleries sold a sealed "first state" copy of the album at auction in Dallas for about $39,000.[11]

In 1987, then-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 Peter. 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 prices of $40,000 and up among collectors, the five stereo versions being the most rare and valuable of these.

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".[9] Ringo Starr has said that it was a commentary on how Capitol Records "butchered" their original albums. However, this opinion was not shared by all band members. George Harrison, for one, 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."[5] Capitol Records apologised for the offense. "Yesterday" and Today was the only Beatles record to lose money for Capitol.[9]

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. ^ McGeary, The Beatles' Internet Beatles Album,, retrieved 2007-10-09  
  3. ^ Schaffner, Nicholas. (1977). The Beatles Forever, Harrisburg, PA: Cameron House. ISBN 0-8117-0225-1, 205-209
  4. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Yesterday ...and Today Overview". Retrieved 19 January 2006.
  5. ^ a b c The Beatles. (2000). The Beatles Anthology, San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books LLC. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8, 204-205
  6. ^ The Beatles' Song Variants,, retrieved 2007-10-09  
  7. ^ "The Beatles Yesterday and Today and the Butcher Covers". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-03-05.  
  8. ^ PBS Antiques Roadshow website, retrieved 26-3-2009
  9. ^ a b c d Schaffner, Nicholas. (1977). The Beatles Forever, Harrisburg, PA: Cameron House. ISBN 0-8117-0225-1, 55
  10. ^ Capitol Customer Response Letter,, retrieved 2007-10-09  
  11. ^

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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