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”.
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.