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Reference Library: Beatles 8 Track Tapes

From: (EgwEimi)
Subject: Beatles 8 tracks
Date: 14 Feb 1995 19:43:34 -0500

The Beatles on Eight Track--The King of Formats in the 60's and 70's.

There are different stories as to whether the four-track format or the eight-track format was issued first. Some say that the four track was an improvement on the eight-track; some say just the opposite. One thing is certain: the Beatles' introduction to the 8TK format in the USA didn't come until 1965 was almost history. The cartridge format was NEW. It was the biggest thing since the l.p.. Record companies charged a premium for eight tracks, and they GOT it.

Companies had been looking for ways to put a reel tape (the only tape format for the longest time) into a nice neat package. The eight track and four track cartridges were one idea of how to accomplish this. The tape speed was 3.75 inches per second, the same speed as the average reel tape. But the tracks on the tape were closer together, which did produce a reduction in sound quality but made the package more compact. The eight track also had the advantage of "continuous play." Not only was there never a need to touch the tape itself (which you had to do with the reels) but also you were able to play through an entire album without flipping the tape over.

Capitol's first eight tracks had white shells. By 1969, they had figured out that the machines left marks on the tapes, so they made black- shelled eight tracks afterward. When quadrophonic sound came along (four channel recordings), the eight track was the top format as far as quad was concerned. It was much easier to make a quad eight track than a quad record. [By the way, John's Imagine, Paul's Band on the Run and Venus & Mars and Live & Let Die Sdtk., and Ringo's Goodnight Vienna were all available as quad eight tracks. Only Imagine (and only in certain countries) was available in quad on l.p.]

Eight tracks were popular enough that some special issues were made, and some eight tracks had added tracks to promote them (sound familiar?). The Playtape, which started c.1966-7, was like what we would call a cassette single--except that it was like an eight track. Cassettes were around, but they were considered unsuitable for music until 1967 and didn't catch on until well into the 70's.

Here is a (complete?) listing of Beatles-related eight tracks released while they were together:

    The following have white shells with front and back "covers".  The
    back cover is green.

Rubber Soul Capitol 8XT 2442 Meet the Beatles/Early Beatles Capitol 8X2T 2521 (1966) Revolver Capitol 8XT 2576

The Capitol eight tracks which follow have white shells, front and back covers, and the back cover is white and pink (regular) or white and blue (combined eight tracks--more than 1 album).

Family Way Sdtk. (P) London probably exists, but has not been verified. Do you have one? Beatles VI/Yesterday and Today Capitol 8X2T 2648 (1967) All songs are stereo from Y&T. Slightly diff. Y&T cover. Sgt. Pepper's LHCB Capitol 8XT 2653 The "Sgt. Pepper Reprise" is extended on this eight track. Magical Mystery Tour Capitol 8XT 2835 Beatles Second Album Capitol 8XT 2080 (1968) Contains one extra song? Something New Capitol 8XT 2108 (1968) Contains one extra song. Beatles '65 Capitol 8XT 2228 Yesterday and Today Capitol 8XT 2553 (1968) All songs are in stereo. Slightly diff. cover. Two Virgins (J) Apple/Tetragrammaton TNM8-5001 Yellow Submarine Capitol? 8XW 153 There is no record company logo on the eight track. The eight track has one extra song. The Beatles Apple 8X2B 101 (8XW 160 and 8XW 161) For some reason, the eight tracks are numbered AFTER Yellow Submarine, unlike the reel tape and the four track, suggesting that both the 8tk and the cassette were released later. Wonderwall Music (G) Apple 8XT 3350

The Capitol-made eight tracks which follow have black shells. The "cover" extends to the front and edge of the shell only. There is no back cover. At this point also, the entire catalog was reissued into the new 8 track format. Combined 8tracks were split up. Help! Capitol 8XT 2386 (first release on 8 track) Beatles Deluxe Three Pack Capitol 8X3T 358 Contains Meet the Beatles, Yesterday and Today, and Magical Mystery Tour in a special 12" box. Less than ten copies are known to exist. Life With the Lions (J) Zapple 8XT 3357 Electronic Sound (G) Zapple 8XT 3358 Wedding Album (J) Apple 8AX 3361 Boxed set with inserts, as the l.p.. This was later reissued with just the cartridge, whose catalog number is 8XM 3361 Abbey Road Apple 8XT 383 The first issue listed "Her Majesty" as "Her Majesty segment from The End." The apple on the cover of this issue is black. Abbey Road Apple 8XT 383 Her majesty is listed normally. The apple on this issue is green. Live Peace In Toronto (J) Apple 8XT 3362 Hard Day's Night United Artists U-3006 Contains an extended version of "Hard Day's Night." Was this album available on 8 track before this time? Hey Jude! Apple 8XT 385 McCartney (P) Apple 8XT 3363 Let It Be Apple ART 8001 Was this issued before the end of 1970?

NOTE: The eight track format was killed by the record companies in 1982. The last known commercially available Beatles-related eight track was: John Lennon Collection (J) Geffen GEF-L8-2023 (1982). Eight tracks continued to be available through record clubs and may still be available today through special orders. John Lennon Live in NYC was available through the RCA record club as S-144497 (1986-7).

Value Guide: Most 8 tracks you see are mid- to late-70's black shell issues. These commonly sell from $2 to $4 each. The first issue of Abbey Road is $15. Most of the white shells go for $20-$25. The combined eight tracks are much less common. They sell for $50-$75 each. The Wedding Album boxed set 8 track can be found for $40, although I've seen them priced as high as $100. Two Virgins goes for $25-$30 in its outer cover. The most expensive item by far is the Beatles Deluxe Three Pack, which yields $700 or more. Good luck finding one!


From: (MPang)
Subject: Re: Beatles 8 tracks
Date: 15 Feb 1995 00:43:09 -0500

Another quad 8 trk was "Walls & Bridges." Not all quad records put out by the different record companies were true quad. It involves a lot of re-mixing. John insisted that his records be true quad.

May Pang

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