The Beatles Butcher Cover – What You NEED To Know!

If you are a fan of the Beatles, you know the Beatles Butcher Cover refers to the album entitled “Yesterday And Today” that was released by the Beatles in June of 1966. The cover is referred to as the Butcher Cover because of the photo on it. The original cover showed the fab four sitting in white lab coats with mutilated baby body parts and pieces of meat strewn about them. Of course, they were not real babies, but dolls that had their heads, legs and arms removed. The photo was taken by Robert Whitaker and was supposed to be a piece of conceptual art.

The Original Beatles Butcher Cover

The Beatles Butcher Cover

The Beatles Butcher Cover

The actual photo was never intended to be the album cover for the released album. Paul McCartney had described the photo as being their way of making a statement on the war. The cover was not released in the United States. The U.S. version of that particular album had the same cover as “Paperback Writer”. The production company at the time was Capitol Records and they were going to destroy all of the album covers that carried the butcher photo.

At some point, the Capitol Records changed their mind and decided instead to paste a replacement photo over the original and release it. The replacement photo featured John Lennon and a steamer trunk. These new copies were called the “trunk” copies and people who purchased them would try to peel the replacement photo off in hopes of revealing the original Butcher Cover underneath. Usually they were not successful and only ended up ruining the cover images altogether. If they had left the cover as it was, it would have been worth some money eventually. As is turned out, there were a few of the original cover albums that got out as well as the revised “trunk” copies.

The Cover Up!  The Yesterday And Today Album Cover

Yesterday And Today Album Cover

Yesterday And Today Album Cover

Today these covers are worth money to people who still having them intact. The original covers with the butchered doll images are referred to as the first state covers while the second release with the paste on cover are second state covers. It is extremely rare to find an original cover copy for this album, but there are some out there. In 1987, the president of Capitol Records who had 24 of the original designed covers sold them. The price today for one of the original covers with the butcher theme goes for as much as $40,000.

If you happen to be in possession of the Beatles Butcher Cover, you can check with a certified dealer in music collectibles to see what the going price for your cover would be. There are several Beatles collectors that will pay top dollar for rare items from the Beatles original days. Even though the onslaught of Beatles mania has been long gone for several decades now, the legend of the group will live on. They were extraordinary musicians as well as pioneers in the field of creating change for humanity. Their controversial music and lifestyles will serve as a reflection of a turbulent time for many generations to come.

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A Critical Review Of The Beatles Butcher Cover Album

The “Butcher Cover” refers to the original cover art for the album “Yesterday And Today” by the legendary pop band The Beatles. The album was the tenth Beatles album released in the U.S., and was not released in Britain, since it was a collection of tracks from the British versions of the albums “Help” and “Rubber Soul” which hadn’t appeared on the American versions, as well as the songs “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work it out” which had come out on a single, and some tracks from the yet to be released album “Revolver”.

John Lennon Butcher Cover Photo Shoot

John Lennon Butcher Cover Photo Shoot

The cover, featuring the smiling Beatles in white butcher shirts festooned with slabs of raw meat and two decapitated baby dolls, was meant to be satirical but was quickly recalled after numerous complaints were received by Capitol Records. The original 750,000 albums with the Butcher covers had a new cover pasted on, featuring the Beatles leaning on a steamer trunk, and albums with this pasted cover steamed off have become collector’s items, sold on eBay and elsewhere.

A myth developed over the years that the Beatles used the bizarre cover to protest the way Capital Records had been “butchering” their albums. Although this is not true, it is easy to see why people got that idea. Capitol Records had been releasing a lot more Beatles records in the U.S. than had been released in Britain, chiefly by including fewer songs on each album and adding songs from singles. The Beatles were losing track of which songs were on which albums, as can be heard in a 1965 concert in America in which John Lennon introduces the song “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” and says he thinks it’s on the album “‘5′, or ’65’ or ’98’ or something”. This latest album had been the worst offender because it even included songs from an unfinished album.

So, Was Yesterday And Today (The Beatles Butcher Cover) A Good Album?

At this point in their career, putting together songs from different albums was particularly objectionable, since starting with “Rubber Soul” the Beatles were staring to think of their albums as works of art on their own, rather than just collections of songs. Stylistically the British versions of “Rubber “Soul” and “Revolver” are quite distinct from each other, and on their next album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” they started to have some songs mesh together with no space in between.

The result of this throwing together of songs from three different albums is an album that, while containing many fine songs, is not as good as any of the other three because the styles are too varied and the songs don’t flow together well, and it’s too short to boot. For example, the Paul McCartney ballad “Yesterday”, which originally came out on the British version of “Help”, is one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written. However, what is it doing following “Doctor Robert”, a much more cynical song from the much more sophisticated album “Revolver”?

Although the Beatles Butcher Cover was not a protest against Capitol records, it should have been! Luckily, after “Revolver” the American albums were identical to the British ones.

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The Most Expensive Beatles Butcher Cover EVER!

When the individual members were asked about the Beatles Butcher Cover album, each band member had a different response. The controversial cover of the 1966 album portrays the band as butchers in white smocks covered in fresh meat and baby body parts. John Lennon and Paul McCartney supposedly protested the Viet Nam war in their willing participation while Ringo Star was rebelling the way the songs had been cut up, mixed and scattered throughout the album. George Harrison reportedly thought the idea was gross and stupid from the beginning.

Previous albums had been customized for the US and recorded differently for the English version. The Beatles wanted to integrate their music under one sound in recording Yesterday And Today. The Butcher Cover photo was originally intended for a different project. Once released however, the controversy began. After more than three quarters of a million albums hit record stores they were recalled. Throwing them in a landfill was too much of a loss or Capitol Records and they therefore recycled the records with new covers. These new covers, called Trunk Covers were sealed over the original Butcher Cover. Once it was discovered that the sealant was removable, the exposed Butcher Covers became almost as popular as the original covers.

Alan Livingston, Capitol Records reigning president during the 60’s kept 25 copies of the controversial album covers and stored them untouched for 20 years. At a Marriott convention in the mid 80’s Peter Livingston, Alan Livingston’s’ son started a buying cycle that has escalated to unexpected proportions. Sales on Ebay continue to rise and surprise. The different states of condition determine the value of the Beatles Butcher Cover. For every ten mono copies, a stereo copy was made. Therefore, the stereo copies bring the most return. Then the rest are as follows:

Beatles Butcher Cover Prices

In original form – stereo and mono copies with slight variations in shrink wrap condition – $85,000 highest sale

In modified form –

  • 1st state Beatles Butcher Cover  – No peeling of the seal
  • 2nd state Beatles Butcher Cover – A portion of the seal peeled
  • 3rd state Beatles Butcher Cover – Entire seal peeled off

Modified forms of the Butcher Cover version of Yesterday And Today, range from around $4,000-$15,000. Stereo and Mono copies are not as easy to come by as current owners are holding on to their investments while watching the increase in demand for them on Ebay.

As the two most visible Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney may have had two different views on the demand for the Butcher Cover. If John Lennon were here today his sense of satisfaction would possible be on the insistence of freedom of expression, and the right to protest a war that he did not support. Paul McCartney is possibly satisfied with the popularity of the album itself despite the controversy that surrounds it.

As in George Harrisons’ view, Paul McCartney may have a somewhat different view about the Butcher Cover of Yesterday And Today than when he participated in the photo shoot. Whether he was also protesting the war or rebelling against the layout of the album, we learn things over time that support our position or change it. After all, maturity tends to have that affect on a person.

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Cheap Beatles Butcher Covers For Sale

Many of the Beatle’s controversial album covers from the 1960’s have become rare, but there are cheap Butcher Covers that are being made available. With the access of the Internet it has become easier to pair up buyers and sellers. The name “Butcher Cover” was due to the LP photo showing the fab four in butcher coats with dismembered baby parts, adorning them with raw meat, and other various bloody body parts. For the 60’s this cover was a little progressive and repulsive. We were barely on the other side of Pat and Debbie Boon, and Elvis still had a squeaky clean image.

Capitol records were releasing Beatles albums at such a fast rate, cutting British EMI Production’s from 14 to 11 songs per album. Filler for the albums included interviews, and instrumental music on the flip side. The cover shot by Robert Whitaker, was one of a collection of 4 photos, and on the photographer’s account was his idea to use as the cover. Shock value was the expectation to increase record sales. According to corporate executives, the cover represented the Beatles feelings about how Capitol Records chopped up their music. Others claimed it was a political protest of the war in Vietnam from John Lennon, Paul McCarthy, George Harrison, and Ringo Star, all claims to this day believes their story true.

Within 5 days, an uproar from DJ’s across the country yelling that the Yesterday and Today album cover was unacceptable and Capitol Records ordered all the Beatles Butcher Cover albums destroyed, then changed their minds to revamp the existing LPs. The revamp included placing a new cover photo pasted onto the old cover and redistributing. Some of the albums were release in mono sound, but many were release in a newer stereo sound, mixing different tracks of sound together, a very new process for the time period.

1st state albums represent an album not pressed, or covered over with the new photo; Stereo recordings are of more value than mono recordings. These albums can bring, as much as $40-50,000, but it is difficult to authenticate since they need to be sealed albums to bring that high of a price. 2nd state Butcher Cover is a pressed album, but unpeeled can bring as high as $500, to 20,000 dollars, sealed it is hard to tell if it is in fact a Butcher Album. 3rd state is a pressed album that has been peeled; depending on the condition of the peeling determines the value.

Most cheap Butcher Covers provide copies of the recall letters. There are many knock off reproductions available, in pristine condition. They have the vinyl inside to simulate the real thing but it probably blank or something else. These dubbed, fantasy copies, run about 30-40 dollars to purchase. Ebay has an ongoing availability of these albums, some people purchase them to put their original albums in and sell off the older collectable covers.

If you purchase these reproductions online, make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer. Anyone with a blog can fabricate positive reviews, so a reputable company with credentials is essential with any online purchase. Cheap Butcher Covers may be a knock off or a good reproduction, you have to decide what you are interested in purchasing.

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The Secret History Of The Beatles Butcher Cover

The history of the Butcher Cover from the Beatles Yesterday And Today Album cover remains controversial as much as the Beatles do today. Some versions imply war protest, some imply protest against Capitol Records handling of their careers, and yet some imply, it was the photographer’s dark witted humour and undertone personal opinion of the human element as a star vs. just being human was all about. All versions of the truth smack of existential assumptions that people would, get it, or grasp what was being implied, and for the 60’s, maybe many people did.

Butcher Cover Caricature

Butcher Cover Caricature

The cover of Yesterday And Today, showed the Beatles in butcher’s jackets, adorned with raw pieces of meat, dismembered baby dolls, glass eye balls and other assorted massacre sundries. When delivered to DJ’s around the country for playtime, out cries of disgust of the jacket photo, began a scurried recall of the albums to fix the problems. Within 5 days time the album was re-released with many of the 750,000 Beatles Butcher cover with a pasted on new cover right over top of the old picture. The new cover had a steamer trunk with the Beatles leaning on it.

Early 1960’s Capitol records did not believe The Beatles were going to be a hit, and treated their music accordingly. The company chopped songs off British released albums and repackaged them with B-side music, mixing them with instrumental flip sides all of which seemed to be all in a day’s business for Capitol. However, the company kept pumping out Beatles music at a faster pace than the Home Record Company EMI, in Britain, as fans grew here in America. How did they do it? Capitol placed only 11 songs to EMI’s fourteen on every album, padding soundtracks with instrumentals, and interview clips.

Who Was Behind The Beatles Butcher Cover?

Although it could be believable that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Star were behind the Butcher Cover, it was in fact the photographer that took and conceived of the controversial photos. The Beatles promoters often had wished they could have been verbally censored in the early 1960’s with the Vietnam War and social issues, the fabulous four were usually very outspoken. It was Robert Whitaker the photographer that decided to depict the Beatles in the strange and unusual photos. A series of four photos were intended to show how they had risen to fame and were idolized, but it needed to remind all that they were just men. However, in true 60’s form, you had to be there to get it.

A case of the original albums were taken and stored away by then Capitol executive John Livingston. In 1987, he started selling the collection at a modest price of 35-40,000 each in today’s market that is the minimum price they would get. Many album owners steamed or tried to peel the new covers off to get a look at the controversial cover, at today’s price they surely wish to turn back the clock. The history of the Butcher Cover depending on who is telling the tale is full of conspiracy theories, which is what the 21st century craves and loves.

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The Beatles Butcher Cover – Myth and Truth

On the 25th of March, 1966, The Beatles went to their photographer Whitaker’s studio to get their photos for an upcoming single. The band and the photographer were determined to create something different than the usual run-of-the-mill shot. The resulting image has since then been the famous or rather infamous ‘butcher’ cover. It is perhaps the single-most famous picture of the group that is now well-sought after.

In the picture The Beatles are wearing white coats and were draped with dismembered doll parts, false teeth and slabs of meat.

The Myth

The butcher cover was not well received by the people and was seen as a sick and offending image. It is often claimed that The Beatles deliberated the ‘butcher cover’ as a protest against their American label, Capitol Records for ‘butchering’ their music records in the United States. But this was not true.

The Truth

The picture was never intended to be part of the cover of the album Yesterday and Today. And more so, the picture was placed on the cover in incomplete form. The complete form of the picture should have been in gold background with silver, jewelled halos around the head. The image was actually a part of three pictures that was meant for a very different purpose. That trilogy never came into existence and thus the ‘butcher’ image never made sense to the people.

The first picture in the trilogy (The Beatles with a woman) was supposed to show that the four of them are also born out of a woman. The second (George Harrison pounding nails into John Lennon’s head) was suppose to indicate that The Beatles are not an illusion but as substantial as a piece of wood. The third picture, only one to be in color was the infamous ‘butcher’ image whose actual title was “A Somnambulant Adventure” and the intent was to present a contrast that was completely different with the Beatles’ public image.

That trilogy was based on simplicity, trying to link the four real people with something real. The ‘butcher’ image was just one part of the session, which was as Whittaker, the photographer said “his personal comment on the mass adulation of The Beatles and the illusory nature of stardom”. He has toured around the world with the group and has seen the people’s adoration of the group. And thus, he intended that trilogy of pictures to make the point that even The Beatles were just human. They are as real as everyone else.

Thus is the reason for the ‘butcher’ cover, so wrongly conceived by the people because it was used at a place it was never intended to be.

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How to Peel the Butcher Cover

The Beatles album, Yesterday and Today was nothing out of the ordinary. What was shocking was the album cover that has since then been famous as the ‘butcher’ cover. It was called so because the cover showed The Beatles in white coats draped with dismembered body parts of dolls, raw meat and false teeth.

The image was not well taken by the dealers who were sent the advance copies for evaluation. The copies were immediately called back, and within 5 days, a new cover was pasted over the original one, known as the ‘truck’ cover.

Why Do It

The Beatles’ fans are not unaware of this story. Infact, the original cover are now a rarity and most sought-after by the collectors. They can fetch a huge price in the market. This has led many people to try to peel off the ‘trunk’ cover to reveal the ‘butcher’ cover.
Till date, people have been peeling of the paste-over cover. The most sought after are never been covered version, followed by the second state unpeeled version and then the peeled ones. If the pasted-over cover is peeled off properly, the resulting butcher cover can get you a lot of money.

How to Do It

Over the years, complex techniques have evolved to peel of the butcher cover. One must determine the condition of the cover before attempting to peel it. If the cover has had water or any liquid spill on it, then peeling it will ruin the cover.

In order to peel off the trunk cover, use an 8 inch strip of masking tape and apply it to the cover. Now gently remove the tape and the trunk cover will come up with it. Repeat the step to get all the trunk cover removed.

As for the glue, check the number on the lower left of the back cover. 1 or 2 for pressed in Jacksonville, 5 or 6 for pressed in L.A. and 12 or 13 for pressed in Scranton. 1, 2, 5 and 6 used alcohol soluble glue. Thus, use isopropyl alcohol to peel off the cover with glue. 12 and 13 used different glue not soluble with alcohol. Use saliva, only thing that will work, to remove the glue.

Use the solvent (alcohol or saliva) cautiously as the glue is ages old making it hard and crusty. Cover one square inch at a time to moist the glue and then with your fingernails, lightly scrape the paper and the glue. Continue this to completely peel the cover and remove the glue.

Be careful in peeling off the cover and you are sure to redeem the benefits out of it.

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Butcher Cover Controversy and Value Today

The Beatles have been famous to the extent that they were adulated by the masses. However, released in June 1966, the Yesterday and Today album’s cover lead to a controversy and The Beatles judgement was for the first time heavily criticised by the media and the masses alike. However, the same image today has become one of the most sought-after pieces of Beatles memorabilia.

The Controversy Behind

The cover snap had The Beatles group dressed up in white coats and they were draped with pieces of raw meat, false teeth and nude dismembered parts from plastic baby dolls. The snap was not meant for the album cover, but the group submitted their shoot photographs from this session for promotional materials and the photo was chosen.

A small amount of the original covers were sent as advanced copies to the disc jockeys and store managers for evaluation. Their reactions have been instantaneous. There were complaints from the dealers that the image is conceived as sick and offending by the people. The image was objected and the artwork was badly received by the people.

Immediately, the records were withdrawn from the market and all promotional material was destroyed. The 750,000 copies with ‘butcher cover’ were pasted over with a new cover of The Beatles around a trunk, since then known as the ‘trunk’ cover.

Butcher worth Millions

Once this manoeuvre was out in public that the copies of the ‘butcher cover’ were ordered back by the record label, the people tried to peel off their ‘trunk’ covers to reveal the butcher cover. The original cover is now a rarity among collectors. It is very popular and in-demand and can fetch you a great price in the market.

The copies that were not pasted over and are still intact are known as ‘first state’ covers. These are very rare and can fetch a very high price. Pasted over covers intact on the butcher cover (unpeeled) are ‘second state’ covers and are very valuable too. Covers that have been peeled to reveal the butcher image are ‘third state’ covers; these are common and not as valuable.

In 1987, the then-president of Capitol records, Alan Livingston offered 24 ‘first state’ butcher covers for sale from his personal collection. These are the rarest specimen of the Butcher cover in existence and command premium prices among collectors.

In 2006, a single sealed mono version butcher cover was auctioned in Dallas for about $39,000. You can imagine the craze by this figure.

Thus, the butcher cover that was initially in such controversies is now among the most sought-after possessions around the globe.

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