Yesterday and Today
is a studio album by the Beatles
, their ninth album released on Capitol Records and eleventh overall American release, released in 1966
Yesterday and Today included tracks from the Beatles' two most recent British LPs which had not yet been included on American albums, plus three from their upcoming LP in the United Kingdom, plus two songs which were back-to-back on a single:
- from the UK LP Help!, the tracks "Act Naturally" and "Yesterday"
- from the UK LP Rubber Soul, the tracks "Nowhere Man" and "What Goes On" (also earlier issued by Capitol as a single), plus "Drive My Car" and "If I Needed Someone."
- both sides of the double A-side single "Day Tripper"/"We Can Work It Out"
- from the not-yet-released UK LP Revolver, the tracks "I'm Only Sleeping", "Doctor Robert", and "And Your Bird Can Sing"
The hodge-podge nature in which Capitol Records compiled their albums irritated the group, who felt they had "put a lot of work into the sequencing" of the British albums.
The album is remembered primarily for the controversy surrounding its original cover image, the "butcher cover" featuring the band dressed in white smocks and covered with decapitated baby dolls and pieces of meat:
Photographer Robert Whitaker took a series of pictures of the group dressed in butcher smocks and draped with pieces of meat and body parts from plastic baby dolls. The group played along as they were tired of the usual photo shoots—and the concept was compatible with their own black humour. Capitol president Alan W. Livingston stated that it was Paul McCartney who pushed strongly for the photo's inclusion as the album cover, and that McCartney reportedly described it as "our comment on the [Vietnam] war". In the United States, Capitol Records printed approximately 750,000 copies of Yesterday and Today
with the photograph. A small fraction of the original covers were shipped to disc jockeys and reviewers as advance copies. Reaction was immediate. The record was immediately recalled and all copies were ordered shipped back to the record label, leading to its rarity and popularity among collectors.
Capitol initially ordered plant managers to destroy the covers, however, faced with so many jackets already printed, Capitol decided instead to paste a much more conventional cover over the old ones. Copies that have never had the white cover pasted onto them, known as "first state" covers, are very rare and command the highest prices.
In 2016, an original copy of Yesterday and Today in shrink wrap was sold for a $125,000.
George Harrison said in The Beatles Anthology that he thought the whole idea "was gross, and I also thought it was stupid. Sometimes we all did stupid things thinking it was cool and hip when it was naïve and dumb; and that was one of them."