50 years after The Beatles first entered a recording studio, the complete collection of those tracks will be available for the first time in North America when The Beatles with Tony Sheridan: First Recordings: 50th Anniversary Edition, is released to stores November 8 on Time Life. The 2-CD set comes with a specially-designed book that is a historical trove of concert and intimate photos taken by Astrid Kirchherr and others who were with The Beatles during the early days of their career. The book also includes handwritten biographies by each member of the group, signed contracts, original artwork taken from posters and records, and text by Hans Olof Gottfridsson, who has spent years researching this period of the Beatles' career.
In North America, it is generally believed that the Beatles' recording career began on Capitol in 1964. Few know that it actually began on the German Polydor label in 1961. As Gottfridsson notes in the book, Polydor executive and big band leader Bert Kaempfert discovered the group in a German nightclub, signing them to his own company and then releasing the songs through Polydor. The night they signed the contract at Kaempfert's kitchen table, the four Beatles wrote brief autobiographies, reproduced here in their original handwriting.
The set includes every recording they made for Kaempfert and Polydor in 1961 and 1962. Multiple versions have been released throughout the past several decadessome in mono, some in stereoeach with distinctly different sounds. Most notably, the US versions of these tracks were overdubbed with another guitarist and drummer in an attempt to mirror the edgier sound the group had evolved into, unbeknownst to American fans at the time of their release in 1964. All versions of every track, including mono and stereo mixes, are included in the double disc set, remarkable in their difference but all bearing the same unmistakable sound of a wholly new kind of band.
Many of the Polydor tracks feature Tony Sheridan on lead vocals, a decision made by Kaempfert. However, John Lennon sings lead vocals on Ain't She Sweet," and George Harrison plays an instrumental, Cry For A Shadow."
The Beatles with Tony Sheridan: First Recordings: 50th Anniversary Edition is a remarkable story, told through music, mementos and words, of a band on the cusp of changing music and pop culture forever. The collection is a fascinating and comprehensive view of one of the most important yet overlooked moments in Beatles history.