An Overview Of Dick James Acetates

It would seem that Dick James acetates were generally used for copyright, publishing and demo purposes. However, so little is known about their origin and function that their real purpose is unclear. They are the rarest of The Beatles' sanctioned acetates. According to Beatles acetate expert, Mark Erbach, "Dick James Acetates were classically poor quality. They used blanks from a company in the UK called "MeloDisc" and they did not hold up well."

The question of how many Dick James Beatles acetates exist is hard to answer since no one has ever really understood the criteria of when and why acetates were created for or by Dick James. Here are questions that, to date, really don't seem to have answers:

1) Why were acetates of EMI recordings created on Dick James labels? Especially when duplicates of them all probably existed on EMIDisc.
2) Who received the Dick James acetates?
3) Where were the Dick James acetates cut?
4) Who was responsible for making them?
5) What rationale was used to determine which songs were cut to a DJ acetate? This one is really tough to understand since there is a spatter of DJ acetates over many years for many different songs. In other words, there is no consistency such as years 62-64 or hit songs or whatever.

Again, were they done by EMI or were the tapes sent to ___? The answers to all these questions would be a huge find.

Those questions alone make it almost impossible to determine how many exist. According to Mark Erbach, "one thing seems consistent,
I have never seen an alternate [take or mix mix of an EMI recording] on a Dick James label which leads one to believe that [discs containing
EMI recordings] were cut after the song was finalized and mastered."

Lastly, it is my speculation that many more Dick James acetates exist but they are very rare. I would put them behind Capitol original acetates in rarity. If anyone viewing this page has any additional info regarding Dick James acetates, your contribution would be highly valued.

It has been suggested to me that, since Dick James was The Beatles' music publisher, the acetates were cut for the purpose of transcribing the lyrics. This makes perfect sense.

Also, I ran across this 1982 interview with Elvis Costello who's father used to work for Dick James. It would seem to explain at least one reason why Dick James acetates were cut.

Costello: "The first records I ever owned were "Please Please Me" and the "The Folksinger" by John Leyton. I was at a bit of an advantage because my father was still with Joe Loss then - he used to get quite a lot of records because they would cover the hits of the day. He'd often have demonstration copies, even acetates; as late as 1966, Northern Songs would still send Beatles acetates out to orchestras to garner covers for (live) radio play. I've got them at home. As my father was the most versatile of the three Joe Loss Band singers, I was fortunate - he got the records and just passed them on to me."

This list, along with page 1, provides the most comprehensive list available.
Images of these must certainly be available from various auctions but I have yet to acquire them.

Bad to Me - A recording of this disc has been available on unauthorized releases since the 1980s.

Do You Want to Know a Secret - Listed by Ted Greenwald.

She Loves You/I'll Get You (# 5) - This is confirmed to exist but no specific details are available.
It is a different disc than the four illustrated on page 1. The label is the style of this one.

Yesterday - Listed listed by Ted Greenwald. It is also reported that this is a McCartney solo demo.

The Word. - This is confirmed to exist but no specific details are available.

For No One - Sold at Rockaway in 1990, single sided, VG.

Good Day Sunshine - Sold at Rockaway in 1990, single sided, VG-.

Goodbye - This is a McCartney solo demo for Mary Hopkin.
A recording of this disc has been available on unauthorized releases since the early 1990s.

Paul's Christmas Record (a.k.a. "Unforgettable") - From a 1995 interview with Mark Lewisohn.
[Lewisohn] "You are rumoured to have recorded a special album at home one Christmas in the 1960s, in which
you sang. acted and performed sketches, only three copies of which were said to have been pressed
for John, George and Ringo. Is this true?"

[McCartney] "
Yes, it's true. I had two Brenell tape recorders set up at home, on which I made experimental recordings and tape
loops, like the ones in "Tomorrow Never Knows." And once I put together something crazy, something left-field,
just for the other Beatles, a fun thing which they could play late in the evening. It was just something for the mates, basically."

It was called "Unforgettable" and it started with Nat 'King' Cole singing "Unforgettable", then I came in over the
top as the announcer: "Yes, unforgettable, that's what you are! And today in 'Unforgettable'...." It was like a magazine
programme: full of weird interviews, experimental music, tape loops, some tracks I knew the others hadn't heard, it was
just a compilation of odd things."

I took the tape to Dick James' studio and they cut me three acetate discs. Unfortunately, the quality of these discs was
such that they wore out as you played them. I gave them to the fellas and I guess they would have played them for a couple
of weeks, but then they must have worn out. There's probably a tape somewhere, though."

Other Beatles-Related Dick James Acetates:

Billy J. Kramer
"I'll Keep You Satisfied"
The Naturals
"I Should Have Know Better"
Pérez Prado
"A Hard Day's Night"
Cilla Black
The Applejacks
"Like Dreamers Do"
George Martin
"Bahama Sound"
George Martin
"I Feel Fine"
The Big Three
"By The Way"