By Scott Heron
The 60's were quite a controversial time. The Beatles where no doubt the stand out act in that decade so the origins behind the mysterious Butcher cover remain debatable to this day. The album in question is Yesterday and Today, there are different versions which could be argued imply different meanings.
Some versions portray war protests, other appear to argue against Capitol handling their careers. The photographer no doubt had a rather dark witted humour which is an acquired taste for many, it was difficult to grasp and to see what was been implied. However due to the consistent controversy it's fair to presume the message was understood.
The infamous butcher cover of the album Yesterday and Today contains the Beatles in white butcher coats, surrounded by pieces of raw meat and body parts from plastic dolls. Upon release, there was an instant recall for a change of cover, Capitol initially ordered for the covers to be destroyed, that decision was quickly changed in favour of more conventional cover to be placed over the old one. The newly placed cover contained a steamer truck with the band leaning across it, simple and far from memorable.
Capitol records where under the illusion that the group were going to fail and their music was therefore treated accordingly to their belief. Songs from their British released albums where removed and repackaged with B-side music which they would also mix with some instrumental flip sides, not a popular choice. The company did release the records at a rapid pace as fans grew in Britain and America.
So Who Thought Up The Beatles Butcher Cover? Aside from popular belief, the Beatles most famous cover was actually thought up by the photographer of the album in question Robert Whitaker, and had nothing to do with the group members. The butcher cover is now so rare that it is one of the most sought after pieces of Beatles memorabilia to date with even George Harrison calling it "the definitive Beatles collectible."
The fab four have always been outspoken with many outbursts and quotes perhaps taken out of context but still remembered to this day. The Beatles promoters had often hoped that they could sensor the famous four especially during the social issues and Vietnam War during the 1960's. No controversy is remembered quite as much as the butcher cover photographed by Robert Whitaker who still stands behind his original vision to this day, he was also strongly behind the idea to depict the band in unusual and rare photos portraying how they had come to fame and at the end of the day they where just 4 ordinary men.
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