1960s LP Vs. Single Versions

How many notable 1960s singles were issued in appreciably different versions on 45s than the same songs — by the same artists — sounded on LPs? It’s not a query apt to keep the average listener awake at night. But it does matter to many collectors, and actually to many less intense fans who’ve noted the differences and found them curious. And there are more such variations than many would think, by many of the most famous and best acts of the era.

This list of examples worth detailing ended up longer than I anticipated. That’s even without considering the numerous, and perhaps countless, variations that are actually essentially the same track. There are lots of different mixes, especially when you compare stereo vs. mono. There are plenty of cuts that last a few more seconds on LP, or a few more seconds on singles. There are also plenty of tracks that were edited for radio play and/or single release, the Doors’ “Light My Fire” being about the most famous such occurrence. But most of this list springs from entirely different recordings of the same song, sometimes of huge hits. So many came to mind that for this post I’m concentrating on the more well known acts among my favorites, saving rather lesser famous ones for a future post.

Sometimes the rationale for putting out a different version is well known, as it is with the Beach Boys’ “Help Me Rhonda” and the Beatles’ “Revolution,” where the Beach Boys simply felt they could do it better, and (at least some of) the Beatles feeling a faster version was necessary for a single. Often the reasons remain mysterious, or even inexplicable. Ranking these in order of their quality or historical importance would mean splitting up multiple entries from specific artists, so I’ve opted to group these notes by artist. Starting, of course, with the biggest group of all.

The Beatles, “Revolution”: Even many casual rock fans know there are two versions of “Revolution,” in part because one was on a chart-topping album and one was a hit single, albeit on the flipside of a #1 disc. It’s more obvious since the titles are slightly different, the White Album version bearing the title “Revolution 1,” and the flipside to “Hey Jude” (which made #12 under its own steam on the national chart) simply billed as “Revolution.” What makes it most obvious is that they’re very different. “Revolution 1” is slow, almost sluggish, with doo-wopish backup harmonies, and a key lyrical difference when John Lennon sings “you can count me out…in” on the LP, but emphatically and simply “you can count me out” on the single.

When Lennon pushed for “Revolution 1” to be a single, Paul McCartney and George Harrison insisted it had to be faster. John still seemed to have regrets, or at least mixed feelings, about this compromise in one of his final interviews. My guess, however, is that a very lopsided majority of fans prefer the fast single version, as I do. It’s more urgent and exciting; the fuzzy guitar blasts add another layer missing from the album version; and if John was reluctant to rearrange the song, you’d never guess it from the vocal, which has an all-out commitment likewise absent from its predecessor. Lennon, incidentally, seemed to have a blind spot of sorts in preferring a slow version to a fast one in another instance, as he wanted “Help!” to be slower. It’s hard to imagine that song working as well if it had been slowed to “Revolution 1” pace.

“Let It Be”: There’s some dispute as to whether the single and LP versions of “Let It Be” qualify as entirely different recordings. They have most of the same basic elements, but very different mixes. Most notably, the LP version — with post-production work by Phil Spector — has pretty loud George Harrison guitar overdubs missing or only faintly heard on the single. The LP version lasts a little longer, too, but Harrison’s guitar is the main reason plenty of people think these are totally different versions. They’re different enough that the Beatles’ official catalog has for many years made space for the single version on the Past Masters Vol. 2 compilation of non-LP tracks. Not everyone remembers this didn’t mark the first time this was on an album, as it appeared on the 1967-1970 anthology back in 1973.

The “Let It Be” single was one of the first records I bought, back in 1970 when I was eight. I didn’t get the Let It Be LP until a couple years later, but even then I was immediately struck by the difference between the versions. Then as now, I much prefer the single. The guitar on the album mix is obtrusive, both during the instrumental break and the final section. Letting the organ and the female backup vocals carry more weight on the single creates a more choral, dignified atmosphere that fits the song better. Paul McCartney of course didn’t care for Spector’s treatment of Let It Be album material in general, though his greatest ire was directed at the overdubbed orchestra and voices on “The Long and Winding Road.”

“Get Back”: The differences are clear-cut: the single has a tag after a brief false ending entirely missing from the album arrangement, with some tossed-off spoken lyrics not found anywhere in the LP version. The album track actually uses the same take as the 45, albeit mixed by Phil Spector. Again the single’s considered a different enough version to merit a place on Past Masters Vol. 2, as it had in 1973 on 1967-1970.

I was a bit too young to clearly remember the different 1969 single version when I bought the Let It Be LP in 1972, and remember feeling gypped when I heard the original on the 1967-1970 version on a friend’s copy that I didn’t own. I’d give the nod to the single version for the additional coda.

“Love Me Do”: It wasn’t widely comprehended while the Beatles were active that the versions of “Love Me Do” on their debut single and album respectively were different. There’s an easy way to tell the difference. Ringo Starr drums on the single, which has no tambourine. Session musician Andy White drums on the Please Please Me version, which has a tambourine, played by Ringo. Since the story was often told (particularly in Hunter Davies’s 1968 authorized biography) that Martin had planned to use White but relented and used Ringo after all, it wasn’t widely suspected that the LP has White on drums. That ended up being the version that was far more widely heard than the one on the original single, especially as it was used on Capitol’s The Early Beatles, which for most of the group’s lifespan was the only place it was available on US releases.

The versions aren’t very different, aside from the tambourine, and it can be questioned why George Martin felt it necessary to re-record the track in the first place. The additional tambourine does help a bit, and the better compromise at the time might have been for Starr to play the drums and White the tambourine, so as not to embarrass Ringo or make him feel inadequate. White doesn’t do a very good job on an early version of “Please Please Me” recorded in September 1962, and his replacement of Ringo could be harshly judged as one of Martin’s few lapses of judgement in his production of the Beatles, if you’re so inclined. It’s not hard to get the Starr/single version of “Love Me Do” now, as it came out on the 1980 Rarities compilation and, more usefully in the CD era, on Past Masters Vol. 1.

There are, by the way, some significant other differences between Beatles and single LP mixes, though you have to be pretty attentive to catch them. There are different vocals on the mono/single and stereo LP mixes “Please Please Me”; the original single/mono version has a better John Lennon vocal, as he briefly forgets words and chuckles on the LP stereo one. And there are a few extra beats in the “I Am the Walrus” single and an excised trumpet flourish at the end of DJ copies of “Penny Lane.”

The Rolling Stones, “Time Is On My Side.” Many things the Beatles did, the Rolling Stones did too. So many acts made different 45/LP versions that you can’t say they were imitating the Beatles when they cut an entirely different take of “Time Is On My Side” for an album. It’s more complicated than the usual scenario, because initially the single and LP versions were the same. Both of those started with an unaccompanied organ, and both were used on the hit single and its first appearance on an album, with 1964’s 12 X 5.

But on November 8, 1964 — when the single was already on the charts, and the track was also already available on 12 X 5, released the previous month — they cut a new version, with a superb and distinctive Keith Richards guitar solo serving as an introduction instead of the organ. This appeared on their second British LP, the unimaginatively titled No. 2. Very few Americans would have been aware of this at the time, when few UK import discs were sold in the US.

But, in an ironic twist to the story, the remake is the version that’s by far the most familiar one to Americans. That’s because it was the one used on their first US greatest hits compilation, Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass), issued in March 1966. It’s also the one used on Hot Rocks, and maybe other compilations with which I’m not familiar. Certainly it’s the one that’s played the most on radio. I don’t remember ever hearing the first version on the radio in the 20th century, though that’s the one that would have played on the radio when it became their first US Top Ten hit.

Opinions differ on the matter, of course, but the remake simply sounds definitively superior, to me and I think most Stones fans. Not just because of the guitar solo at the beginning, though that’s the biggest reason. The whole performance is better and tighter. The Stones’ No. 2 album, by the way, also had a different version of a second song than what would have been heard in the US at the time. For reasons still unexplained, a briefer, higher-pitched version of “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” was on their US Now album, while a longer, lower-pitched, and funkier one was on No. 2.

As for “Time Is On My Side”‘s placement on Big Hits, as Rhino Records co-founder Harold Bronson wrote in his diary/memoir Time Has Come Today, in 2006, Stones manager Andrew Oldham told him “the group preferred this take and, in compiling Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass), the original didn’t work in the running order as well as the second version. ‘As far as I can recall, you are the first fellow to ever ask me about ‘Time Is on My Side,’ he said.”

The Rolling Stones, “Honky Tonk Women.” The 1969 single, a huge #1 hit, is one of the Stones’ core classics. Virtually everyone would agree on that. Not so the counterpart on Let It Bleed, which doesn’t even have the same title, though it is the same song. Some might say the casual, country-ish hoedown arrangement doesn’t qualify, as it was retitled “Country Honk.” It was so drastically rearranged, in fact, that it almost doesn’t sound like the same composition, though it assuredly is.

Why the group decided to redo it, and use it instead of “Honky Tonk Women,” isn’t readily understandable. It’s true some bands, more in the UK than US, didn’t want previously released or simultaneously released singles to also be available on albums. But Let It Bleed does include “Honky Tonk Women”‘s nearly-as-classic B-side, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” in the same version used on the 45.

In the original Rolling Stone Record Guide, Dave Marsh called “Country Honk” “an abomination in the face of the original ‘Honky Tonk Women’ single,” and while I might not phrase it quite as harshly, I’m generally in agreement. I would say the overwhelming majority of Stones fans would vote the single the better version — at least 99%, in fact. The main reason for its existence seems to have been that the song was first conceived more as a country outing than a rocker. Keith Richards told Crawdaddy in 1975, “That’s how the song was originally written, as a real Hank Williams/Jimmie Rodgers/1930s country song. And it got turned around to this other thing by Mick Taylor, who got into a completely different feel, throwing it off the wall another way.”

The Beach Boys, “Help Me Rhonda.” In a pretty well known oddity in the Beach Boys catalog, they put out an LP version of one of their biggest hits before issuing an entirely different recording on the single. The one on the Today album is far more sluggish, giving weight to a ukulele and a harmonica solo. It also even spells it differently — “Help Me Ronda.” The reason it was redone for a single seems straightforward enough — with the bass and jangly guitar intro, faster tempo, more of a Phil Spector influence in the production, more energetic backup harmonies, and a characteristically crisp (and very brief) Carl Wilson guitar solo, it’s better from every angle. One far lesser noticed change is in the lyric “and it ruined our plan” to “and it shattered to our plan,” which Mike Love takes the credit for in his autobiography. The real mystery is why they didn’t keep working at it before the single version — virtually unanimously considered far better — came out.

The Beach Boys, “Be True to Your School.” This isn’t one of my favorite Beach Boys hits, and is too rah-rah both lyrically and musically for my taste. But no matter where you put it in the Beach Boys canon, the 1963 hit single instantly strikes you as remarkably different, as the album version is missing the cheerleader chants (by Capitol girl group the Honeys, one of whom, Marilyn Rovell, would become Brian Wilson’s first wife) and even missing a guitar solo, an omission rectified by the re-recording. Even if the 45 had never been recorded, the LP arrangement would seem to be missing something, and have far less oomph.

Here’s a mystery I’ve never seen addressed: the first two Beach Boys greatest hits collections, issued by Capitol in 1966 and 1967, included virtually all of their hit singles, as well as some standout B-sides and LP tracks. But neither had “Be True to Your School” (or, for that matter, “The Little Girl I Once Knew,” which made #19 in late 1965). How did these get omitted, and dubious choices like “Long Tall Texan” and “Louie Louie” slip in instead?

The Who, “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand.” Sure this would have gotten more attention if it was an A-side, but as heard on the US B-side of “I Can See for Miles” (“Someone’s Coming” was on the UK B-side), this has a way different arrangement than the version on The Who Sell Out. The single has Al Kooper on organ, a higher key, full Keith Moon drum bashing, and a generally considerably poppier approach, as if it was cut with the intention of being a single A-side before the idea was abandoned. The LP counterpart, in contrast, is almost folky in its acoustic guitar foundation and far less ornate percussion (almost minimal by Who standards). Too, the instrumental breaks are much different — the single highlights the organ, but the album strips it down to acoustic guitar and percussive rattles, with a different nearly Latin tempo.

Which one’s better? It’s a close call, and one of those occasions where instead of picking one over the other, it’s good to have both available, as the differences aren’t merely superficial and both are good recordings. I kind of like the single version better, and it probably would have slotted into The Who Sell Out in the same place in the sequence without anyone feeling like it was an ill fit.

Foreign record labels obviously had some trouble with the song’s title. In the US, Decca titled the B-side version “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hands,” turning the hand from a singular to a plural. The French sleeve (pictured) had trouble with the definite article and turned it into “Mary Anne with a Shaky Hand.”

As a brief footnote, when I was seventeen in 1979, a local FM radio station ran a Who A-Z day — maybe the only time it ever presented such a thing. It was pretty comprehensive, including all the non-LP UK-only 45 tracks. But it missed the 45 version of “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand.” I pointed this out in a letter to them (no instant email in those days), and didn’t receive a reply.

The Who, “Circles.” Even as a big fan of the Who for about 45 years, I still have a hard time keeping the back story behind the two versions of “Circles” straight. Basically they recorded a version of this fine mod rocker with producer Shel Talmy, but as they wanted to break off their association with him around the beginning of 1966, they subsequently re-recorded it without his involvement. The second version came out on March 4, 1966 on the UK B-side of “Substitute” on the Reaction label, though it was quickly replaced by “Waltz for a Pig,” an instrumental credited to “The Who Orchestra” (actually the Graham Bond Organisation). This was because of legal action from Shel Talmy, and the first version, which he had produced, came out shortly afterward on the UK B-side of “A Legal Matter,” on the Brunswick label. This first version also came out in April 1966 on the Who’s first US LP, The Who Sings My Generation.

More headaches for discographies down the decades ensued because “Circles” was also, for no apparent reason other than to evade legal threats, released with “Instant Party” as or in the title in some of its different iterations. The second version of “Circles” also came out in September 1966 on the UK Ready Steady Go EP. The first version, however, was far more familiar to American listeners than the second one, as The Who Sings My Generation would constantly be available, and the EP never released here, with the second version not showing up on an official US release until 1987’s Two’s Missing compilation.

More important than the different titles and different releases are the actual tracks. The Talmy take is a bit sloppy in execution, and murkier in mix than most 1965 Who recordings, especially in how John Entwistle’s horn blares and blends with the other instruments. Yet the remake, though clearer, is more muted and less spirited. The guitars at least ring with real authority on the initial attempt. For that reason, among others, I prefer it, though it’s fair to say the Who never seemed to fully get to grips with this song in the studio and maximize its potential. It might have been a little too weird in structure — with two different bridges and in its first incarnation an extended rambling, droning instrumental passage near the end — to be the possible A-side it was first envisioned as.

The Who, “I’m a Boy.” So few people heard this in the US when it was first released in 1966 that Americans think of the longer LP version, from the 1971 greatest hits collection Meaty, Big and Bouncy, as the only or at least definitive one. Not so in the UK, where a shorter version made #2. The longer version was recorded only a little later in 1966, but is substantially different, lasting about a minute longer with an extra verse. Mostly for that reason, the original hit UK version sounds a little strange to US listeners, though both have their merits. The single is more concise and has wordless group harmonies in the instrumental section, and the album variant has more content, though it drags a little in comparison.

The Who, “Magic Bus.” The Who seemed to take the length of a track into serious consideration for their singles, considering that two very popular ones had significantly shorter durations in their 45 iterations. Like “I’m a Boy,” “Magic Bus” was about a minute shorter on its 1968 single than it was on Meaty, Big and Bouncy a few years later, though both versions were recorded around the same time. With “Magic Bus,” the groove is more the core than the lyrics or chord changes, so it works better when it goes a little longer — though not when it goes a lot longer, as live versions (most famously the one on 1970’s Live at Leeds) have demonstrated. 

In the department of “here’s something I don’t remember seeing written about,” one way to tell the versions apart is how the weird shouted “moo” before the instrumental break seems lower and more echoed on the single. A more vital question, as least in some minds, is: what does this “moo” mean? Is it supposed to be “move” and the end consonant doesn’t come through? Is it “Moon,” meaning a cue for Keith Moon to play?

The Byrds, “Why.” Why are there two versions of “Why,” released almost a year apart? Like many of the cases exhumed in this post, it’s not clear. First heard in early 1966 on the B-side of “Eight Miles High,” it too had a pronounced raga influence — even more so than “Eight Miles High,” though the song wasn’t nearly as good. The main attraction was the sitar-like instrumental break, though Roger McGuinn actually created it by playing a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar through a walkie talkie speaker inside a cigar box. A subsequent version, released in 1967 on the Younger Than Yesterday album, was considerably less energetic, with much less adventurous guitar work.

While this is the consensus among most critics and fans, the LP version isn’t without a significant merit not heard on the 45. That’s in the tense, declarative up-and-down chords that serve as its introduction, which aren’t present at all on the single. The album arrangement was heard, and probably still has been heard, more than the 45, as the version of “Why” on the single remained non-LP, and for many years the only version that could be easily obtained was on Younger Than Yesterday. Certainly this was the version noted alternative/indie guitarist and album designer Bruce Licher heard, as is evident on the homage paid to the LP cut in the introduction to Licher’s 1997 demo “Tundra,” as heard on the Tape Excavation compilation.

The Byrds, “Don’t Make Waves.” Although this was one of the weakest songs the Byrds cut in the mid-1960s, I can reprise a listing I wrote a few years ago as part of a post on rarities yet to be reissued:

As the non-LP B-side to the not-quite-hit-single “Have You Seen Her Face,” “Don’t Make Waves” was one of the least essential songs the Byrds released during their classic 1965-67 David Crosby era. It’s a real basic Roger McGuinn-Chris Hillman composition, serving as the theme song for an obscure 1967 film of the same name, though it has characteristically nice Byrds harmonies. And it has, some of you Byrdsmaniacs are already declaring, been reissued as a bonus track on the expanded CD of their Younger Than Yesterday album. 

Yes, but actually the version on the Don’t Make Waves soundtrack LP is different. And kind of weird, too — the vocals have a hollow reverb, almost as though they’re singing to the backing track in an empty hallway. Michael Clarke’s had his share of criticism as a drummer, and though it’s usually unfounded and his work is usually serviceable enough, here it’s kind of overdone bashing. It sounds like a demo that got used by accident, or was maybe rushed over to the film’s producers when they needed something before it could get relatively polished in the studio, the vocals seeming to lose some heart near the finish. McGuinn goes into a neat twelve-string figure at the very end, but even that gets botched by the production, which fades it out as soon as it starts.

If this is such a mediocre recording, some might hold the attitude that it’s better off left unreissued. But the Byrds were one of the greatest bands of the time, and it would be good to have everything they did available, including their relatively few misfires. Maybe it couldn’t be licensed for their standard catalog since it appeared on a soundtrack LP for MGM Records, and not on their usual label, Columbia.”

The Yardbirds, “I’m a Man.” Here we have an unusual case where the LP version preceded the one on the hit single by almost a year; the LP version was live, and the hit a studio recording; different lead guitarists, both big stars, were featured on each; and the single, though a pretty big hit in the US, wasn’t even issued in the UK. A live performance of this Bo Diddley classic with the Eric Clapton lineup, released around the end of 1964 on Five Live Yardbirds (though it was recorded back in March), rumbles along nicely enough, with the kind of tempo changes that differentiated much of what the Yardbirds did from the originals they were covering. By comparison, the single, released in October 1965, is explosive, with a more confident, ferocious attack and fiery Jeff Beck soloing in the final instrumental section that concludes with a percussive attack on the guitar strings.

For such a major band, some of the record company decisions concerning the Yardbirds were inexplicable. One assumes part of the reason “I’m a Man” didn’t come out in the UK was because there was no UK Yardbirds studio album before 1966, though one-and-a-half studio LPs came out in the US in 1965. Certainly there were enough tracks by the Jeff Beck lineup for at least one studio British LP in ’65, even if that would have meant using some material from 45s and their 1965 UK EP. This meant that not only “I’m a Man,” but also “The Train Kept A-Rollin’,” another great track, weren’t even on the British market in the mid-’60s. 

In the US, “The Train Kept A-Rollin'” and “I’m a Man” found a place on 1965’s Having a Rave-Up with the Yardbirds LP, side one of which was one of the greatest LP sides of the era, even if it was mostly comprised of songs that had appeared on singles. There weren’t enough studio tracks in the can to fill up a whole studio album, so side two took four songs from Five Live Yardbirds, which wasn’t issued in the US. One of those was the Clapton version of “I’m a Man.” American listeners must have been confused to find two versions of the same song — albeit pretty different versions — on the same LP, with no explanation as to the date and lineup of the live performance.

Country Joe & the Fish, “Section 43.” Like a few entries in this post, this sort of goes beyond the strict 45/LP version division, as the original version of this psychedelic instrumental was on the Fish’s second EP, released in 1966. The more well known version appeared on their 1967 debut LP, Electric Music for the Mind and Body. Maybe some casual listeners won’t detect too much difference, but the 1966 performance, recorded with a slightly different lineup, simply has more loose and reckless spontaneity without lapsing into excess. That’s especially true of the guitar riffs in the opening section, which have an ear-piercing frequency missing from the LP remake. The debut album included remakes of the two other songs from the LP, “Bass Strings” and “Love” (titled “Thing Called Love” on the EP). But the difference in quality is far more pronounced in comparing the two “Section 43″s.

Country Joe & the Fish weren’t the only notable Bay Area group from the psychedelic era to remake songs from an early EP on their debut LP. So did the more obscure, but quite worthy, Mad River, whose 1967 EP had early versions of “Amphetamine Gazelle” (initially titled “A Gazelle”) and “Wind Chimes.” These aren’t as noteworthy as “Section 43,” though “Wind Chimes” has a section with Hare Krishna chants not on the LP arrangement. The Mad River EP’s most notable, actually, for a good song that doesn’t appear on either of their two LPs, “Orange Fire.”

Everything from the second Country Joe & the Fish EP and Mad River’s EP—along with the fine EP by Bay Area psychedelic group Frumious Bandersnatch, who never issued anything else in their lifetime, and the not-as-fine EP from Notes from the Underground—was included on Big Beat’s 1995 CD compilation The Berkeley EPs. Getting back to the EP version of “Section 43,” that was also featured on the four-CD box Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970, the best compilation of San Francisco ’60s rock.

The Great Society, “Somebody to Love.” Although this group put out just one barely distributed single while active, they’re not as obscure as many would think, since they featured Grace Slick before she joined Jefferson Airplane. “Somebody to Love” was their one barely-distributed single, recorded and issued before Jefferson Airplane cut their hit version. Because of Slick’s subsequent fame with Jefferson Airplane, two LPs of live 1966 recordings of the Great Society at San Francisco’s Matrix club were issued in 1968, including a concert performance of “Somebody to Love.”

This live version is much, much better than the comparatively rudimentary single, although it was recorded only about half a year later. For one thing, the single—titled “Someone to Love,” not “Somebody to Love”—is sung by Slick with another member of the band, David Miner. It was more of a dirge at this point, and while the live version is certainly still slower than the Airplane’s dynamic arrangement, it’s far more honed and dramatic. There’s better guitar soloing, a raga-ish riff introducing the song and recurring throughout, and a superb solo Slick lead vocal. It’s probably much more a reflection of how dramatically the Great Society improved in half a year than a deliberately strategic rearrangement.

Donovan, “Catch the Wind.” Hit and popular songs are often remade years later, often due to the original recordings being unavailable for licensing, or just because artists past their peak want to use material that’s better than what they’re subsequently able to conjure. These remakes are rarely of interest, and often terrible. There are exceptions that prove the rule, however, like “Catch the Wind,” a big hit when Donovan made it his debut single in 1965. He underwent very complicated contractual disputes with record labels, and by the time his first greatest hits compilation came out in 1968, his 1965 releases — comprising quite a few tracks from singles, LPs, and EPs — were unavailable for Epic’s Donovan’s Greatest Hits collection, issued at the beginning of 1969. 

The most popular of Donovan’s compositions from 1965 singles, “Catch the Wind” and “Colours,” were thus re-recorded in May 1968. Where the originals had been acoustic folk in nature, these remakes had full rock arrangements with top British session men Big Jim Sullivan (guitar), Clem Cattini (drums), and a pre-Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones. The 1965 “Catch the Wind” was a very impressive debut, but the 1968 redo was both quite different and pretty good. It had a more languid, introspective pace, and was a good two minutes longer. I’d give the original the slight edge, but the “rock” version, though it’s not exactly hard rock, is worthwhile in its own right.

It was also the only one I was familiar with for a couple years after getting the Greatest Hits LP at age 17 in 1979, before I was able to hear the original or any of Donovan’s largely folk-based 1965 tracks. I’m guessing a good number of others who weren’t old enough to hear the original version were exposed to the 1968 remake first, Greatest Hits being a big seller and generally more widely available than his 1965 material. The 1968 “Colours” version is also longer and more elaborately arranged than the original, but I don’t find it nearly as interesting as the “Catch the Wind” remake.

The Grateful Dead, “Dark Star.” Even many Deadheads are unaware of this 1968 single version, clocking in at a mere two minutes and 45 seconds. It will certainly never displace the far more celebrated 23-minute concert version on 1969’s Live/Dead in the consciousness of either Deadheads or more general rock fans. If you do prefer studio concision to live improvisation, however, you might prefer or at least appreciate the single, which emphasizes the song rather than the jamming. It was heard by few upon its release as it didn’t gain much sales or airplay, or find a place on their 1960s LPs; according to Dennis McNally’s biography A Long Strange Trip, only 1600 copies of the single were pressed, and only 500 sold. It hasn’t been easy to find on reissues, though it’s on Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970.  

One little noted connection this single illuminates: the Grateful Dead and the Velvet Underground are sometimes categorized as the ultimate opposites in 1960s rock, the San Francisco hippies on one side and the dark, urban realists on the other. But there were links between the groups, if tenuous ones. Both of them called themselves the Warlocks briefly before settling on their permanent names. They shared bills in 1969 in Pittsburgh and Chicago. The Grateful Dead were among the witnesses at the marriage ceremony of original Velvet Underground drummer Angus MacLise and Hetty McGee on April 24, 1968 in Golden Gate Park. And, according to an interview Hetty gave Bananafish many years later, she plays tambura on the Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star” single.

Bob Dylan, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.” Considering the extreme interest in Dylan’s 1966 world tour, and particularly in live performances of the electric half of those concerts with the Hawks (later the Band), it’s a little surprising the appearance of a live recording from those shows on the B-side of a hit single didn’t get more attention, then and since. Back in 1966, a live version of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” was on the B-side of “I Want You,” which got to #20 in the charts. This was less than a year after a studio version of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” was on Dylan’s first all-out rock album, Highway 61 Revisited.

A May 1966 recording of a British Dylan concert in Manchester achieved legendary status since it started to get bootlegged (and misidentified as a show in London’s Albert Hall) just a few years later. Decades later, that Manchester concert was officially released, including a version of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.” If you’re concerned about having a complete Dylan collection, it’s vital to know that the version on the B-side of “I Want You” is not the same one as the Manchester concert. It was recorded three days earlier in Liverpool, on May 14, 1966.

It’s not much different than the Manchester version; you wouldn’t expect it to be, from the same tour just three days apart. It is, however, appreciably different from the Highway 61 studio track, in common with how Dylan generally sounded with the Hawks on songs he’d already released in studio renditions. There’s nothing wrong with the studio version, although I admit it’s not among my favorite Dylan tunes. But the live recording sounds richer and fuller.

This Liverpool-taped B-side hasn’t been easy to come by since its initial release. It showed up on the 1978 triple LP compilation Masterpieces, only released in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It’s also on the 36-CD box The 1966 Live Recordings, which has all of the live recordings known to survive from that year. That’s a lot of cash to spend for the B-side taped in Liverpool, though at least it has a ton of other material that’s not available elsewhere, albeit with more multiple versions of the same song than almost anyone would want to hear in a concentrated dose.

Going back to 1966, it’s a little mysterious why only this track was released from his live recordings back then, and why nothing else from the live recordings was issued for many years, though the Manchester show was heavily bootlegged for decades. There were a couple gaps in Dylan’s career at Columbia Records that could have easily been filled by a live 1966 album. The first was when he didn’t release anything for a year and a half after Blonde on Blonde came out in mid-1966 — not a gap even worth noting for artists in the late 20th and early 21st century, but a big one for 1960s stars. Columbia opted to put out the first Dylan’s greatest hits collection in 1967, and while a live 1966 recording almost certainly wouldn’t have sold as much, the market could have borne a live album in that 18-month or so period as well.

Then there was no Dylan Columbia studio album between 1970’s New Morning and 1975’s Blood on the Tracks (remember that early 1974’s Planet Waves initially came out on Asylum). unless you want to count 1973’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which was for the most part a soundtrack. Columbia opted to put out the outtakes collection Dylan in 1974, which was ridiculed as an absurdly inferior compilation given the wealth of much better unreleased material which was known to exist even back then. Maybe there was some legal or contractual holdup surrounding the 1966 live tapes, or objection from Dylan and/or his representatives. But at least the recordings are readily available now, if not always readily affordable.

4 thoughts on “1960s LP Vs. Single Versions”

  1. Fascinating subject matter. Perhaps it’s also worth mentioning The Rolling Stones’ ‘Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)’ – released not only in different edits, but different takes.

    One of my favourite earlier examples is Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘It’ll Be Me’: the version on his first album in 1958 is VERY different from the B-side of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On’ the previous year.

    1. Art Fein had an interesting comment about this in his liner notes to the 1985 Rhino double LP Jerry Lee Lewis comp Milestones:

      “Once, in 1973, I happened to be listening to rockabilly records with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I asked John what his favorite Jerry Lee piano solo was. He replied “It’ll Be Me”…I played it, and it didn’t have an especially rocking solo. “That’s the wrong version,” he said. “Wrong version?” I said. “I bought this album in 1958. It’s the only version there is.” “Well, it’s not the version I knew in Liverpool,” he said….It wasn’t until Charly released a Jerry Lee Nuggets album that I realized Lennon was right. The “other” version I hadn’t recognized was the original flipside of “Whole Lotta Shakin’.” I’d never bothered to flip it over because I had the album cut! Sorry John.”

  2. A major difference between the 2 versions of Revolution that you neglected to mention is that Nicky Hopkins plays the exciting piano part on the single version.

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