For being the biggest band of all time, the Beatles' discography can be surprisingly labyrinthine the deeper you go. Sure, there's the classic later albums – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The White Album, Abbey Road, you know the drill and if you don't you really should.
But for their earlier, poppier work, The Beatles received quite different treatments in Britain and in America, with different album titles and contents depending on what side of the Atlantic you hailed from. Singles were often kept separate from albums in the UK (hence CD collections like Past Masters Volumes 1 and 2), but in the U.S. they were included on the albums proper.
When the Beatles catalog was released on CD back in 1987, though, the "British" versions were taken as the gospel to standardize releases, and U.S.-only albums like Beatles VI were deleted from the catalog. Until now, when Capitol Records continues their reissue series with the four-CD box set The Capitol Albums Vol. 2, out today, featuring the debut on CD of American albums The Early Beatles Beatles VI, the Help! soundtrack, and Rubber Soul. Each album has been remastered from original tapes with excellent results, and features many Beatles classics on stereo on CD for the first time, such as "Twist and Shout" and "Please, Please Me."
The 2004 set Capitol Albums Vol. 1 cleaned up the Beatles' earliest releases, but to my mind, this new set really starts to get into the golden material. The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 nicely marks the line between Beatles as teen idols and Beatles as truly monumental songwriters. Rubber Soul, included here, is the first in a series of albums continuing with Revolver that set the Beatles legend in stone. Astoundingly, all four albums here were released in the U.S. in 1965. Imagine four albums by The Beatles in one year, nearly every song a gem!
The differences here are mostly in track sequencing, rearranging songs included on other collections. Rubber Soul here, for instance, kicks off with "I've Just Seen A Face" rather than "Drive My Car," which gives the album a radically different feel from the start. The Help! soundtrack is reconfigured by adding several of George Martin's instrumental movie songs and deleting several Beatles tracks – which means completists will likely still want the separate "British" CD version. See how confusing this can get?