Beatles Butcher Cover
The Beatles Butcher Cover is the album cover initially used for the Beatles’ US release Yesterday and Today. It is famed for its controversial depiction of the Fab Four with bloody meat and dolls’ limbs.
The photographs for the album cover were taken in early 1966 by photographer Robert Whitaker as part of a conceptual art experiment called A Somnambulant Adventure. The photographs were not intended for an album cover but were submitted for promotional use. The work was originally used to publicise the British release of the Paperback Writer single.
Paul McCartney described the photos as a statement on the Vietnam War.
Around 750,000 copies were produced in the US. A small number of advance copies were sent to store managers and DJs. It quickly became clear that the photo proved distasteful to many and most copies were returned to Capitol. The record company pasted a more conventional cover over the offending photo. These are now known as trunk, or “second state” covers.
Many owners attempted to remove the new cover, most damaging the sleeve in the process. In recent years, advanced techniques have made the procedure possible, albeit with some slight markings. Unpasted covers are extremely rare. These are known as “first state” covers.
Pastover covers that have not been peeled are also sought after by collectors today.
A factory sealed Butcher Cover album sold for $26,000 at Heritage Auction Galleries in February 2011. It is thought there are only 25 sealed copies with the original cover in existence.
Yesterday and Today
Yesterday and Today was the ninth Beatles LP for the US market. It was released by Capitol on June 20, 1966. It contained two tracks from the UK Help! album, four songs from Rubber Soul, three songs from the forthcoming Revolver and both tracks from the Day Tripper/We can work it out single.
Aside from the collectible nature of the cover, the album’s unusual production ensured its uniqueness for collectors. Small differences in a number of songs exist when compared with the UK versions, including duophonic mixes of Dr Robert, And Your Bird Can Sing and I’m Only Sleeping.