On this day in music history: January 10, 1964…

On this day in music history: January 10, 1964 – “Introducing The Beatles”, the US debut album by The Beatles is released. Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from September 11, November 26, 1962 – February 11, 1963. Chicago, IL based Vee Jay Records is the first label to release an album by The Beatles in the United States, beating Capitol Records to the punch by ten days much to their chagrin. The twelve track LP consists of material from the bands’ first UK album “Please Please Me”, though due to copyright restrictions in the US, the release has two tracks removed, having included fourteen songs altogether. Initially, the label scheduled “Introducing” for release in July of 1963, but is abruptly cancelled when The Beatles first two US singles “Please Please Me” and “From Me To You” fail to chart. It is only after Capitol releases “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in December 1963, that Vee Jay take the opportunity to cash in on the bands’ sudden US success. The “Introducing” album is released in two basic variations in 1964. The first (also known as “version one”) includes “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You”. The second (also known as “version two”) includes “Please Please Me” and “Ask Me Why”, with the second version being the more common of the two. Numerous label variations and back covers of the album jacket are printed over its life span. The rarest variant are copies packaged with the “ad back” cover, featuring twenty five minis of various albums by other Vee Jay artists. The label does this when they initially have no back cover slick prepared. Only 6,000 of these covers were printed, and have become highly sought after collector’s items. Another rare variant features a blank back cover with no text printed on it. Capitol quickly takes legal action against Vee Jay, looking to prevent their rivals to pressing the LP and pull existing product from stores. Vee Jay seeks and wins an appeal, allowing them to press and distribute the album through October of 1964. In that time, the label recycles the material they have license to numerous times over that short time span. Though the major sales success of “Introducing The Beatles” gives Vee Jay a solid hit in the wake of The Four Seasons recent departure (over unpaid royalties), it is not enough to help the labels’ already precarious financial state, which is further exacerbated by the legal fight with Capitol. Eventually, Vee Jay files for bankruptcy and goes out of business in 1966. However, that is not the end of the Vee Jay album. In the mid 1970’s, the album is widely bootlegged, becoming the most heavily pirated release in US record history, far outpacing the number of legitimately pressed LP’s that were sold during the 60’s. “Introducing The Beatles” spends nine weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, ironically being held off the top of the chart by “Meet The Beatles”, the bands’ debut album on Capitol Records.