Sunday, May 8, 2011



Every so often I find a treasure or two in a used record store, and I'm always keen to share the story.  This time, two different stores, two different cities, two different days, but two from the same series of vinyl albums.

Back in 1960, Capitol Records of Canada started issuing a unique series of LP's, with the serial numbers starting at T-6000, the T denoting mono, with ST used for stereo later.  These albums were special, as for the most part they were put together for the Canadian market, and in the years since many of them have become highly desirable collectors' items.  Much of the interest comes from the fact that The Beatles were part of the series, but there are plenty of other classic artists on the label, including several other British Invasion groups, and some Canadian-born stars as well.  The series was overseen by Capitol's Paul White, eventually a VP of the company, whose job it was to monitor releases from EMI in England, the parent company of Capitol U.S., and see what would make a good release in Canada.  In this job, White recommended releasing singles by The Beatles in Canada in 1963, a full year before the U.S. division followed suit.  He would also go to bat for several other British imports.

In those days, LP's from England were very different from what would emerge in North America.  British pop discs would usually be 14 tracks long, and usually not include the latest A- and B-sides of 45's, nor the  four cuts from E.P.'s.  The versions coming out on this side of the pond would generally be 12 cuts, and would have all the new hits on them.  This meant for North America, there would be several extra tracks available, and new LP's and alternate versions could be created.  It happened with The Rolling Stones, and certainly The Beatles.  In the U.S., there were titles such as Something New.  Here in Canada, White got a chance to make three albums not seen in other countries:  Beatlemania, Twist and Shout, and Long Tall Sally.  For Canadians, these were the first and most familiar Beatles albums for several years, until U.S. execs ordered the Canadians to copy their titles and covers.

That was just the tip of the iceberg for White.  As the British Invasion continued, he got to play with the new releases of hitmakers such as The Dave Clark Five, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Hollies, The Animals, The Yardbirds and hundreds of others.  There were bagpipe albums, plenty of novelty comedy performers, stars from older days such as Vera Lynn, Latin music, anything that came out in England was ripe for repacking in Canada.  Pretty soon, Canadian artists such as Robbie Lane & the Disciples, Barry Allen and eventually Anne Murray would end up on the 6000 series.

My two finds came from May and June of 1964, and both were in fine shape, with no visible scratches, and played very well.  The covers especially were a joy, with only a small wear and a tiny pencil mark on one.  I found The Dave Clark Five's Bits And Pieces in Back Alley Music in Charlottetown, PEI, quite fittingly on Record Store Day, while in town for the ECMA's.  I was thrilled to grab it for $20.  The album is made up of several of the group's first singles, including the two recent smash hits, Glad All Over and Bits And Pieces.  Liner notes say that both of these tracks went to #1 in Canada, and the same is predicted for their latest, a cover of The Contours' Do You Love Me (it did reach the Top Ten at least).  Various b-sides and fillers top up the track number to 11.

Two weeks later, I stopped by Spin-It, my long-time trusty dealer in Moncton, NB, where another 6000 series album had recently turned up.  This is one of the unique compilations White was able to put together.  Smashin'-Smashers From England was assembled for the huge interest in all the British Invasion bands.  The Beatles aren't here, probably because by this time, access to their material would be restricted, but there were lots more new stars available to White.  The DC5 are here again, with three tracks including repeats on Glad All Over and Do You Love Me.  The Hollies have three early cuts, including the group's first international hit, Just One Look.  Canada always had better luck with British superstar Cliff Richard than the Americans did, and Sir Cliff was granted two cuts, as were his backing band, stars on their own, The Shadows.  Rounding out the album was the underachieving Adam Faith.  $30 seemed a fair price for this one.

The world's expert on the 6000 series says I did well.  Piers Hemmingsen lived in Liverpool when the Beatles exploded, and then moved to Canada.  He's written two books on the Fab Four's Canadian output, and maintains the excellent Capitol 6000 website, where I found most of the information for this article  (  He's constantly updating it with high-priced finds, and new information, and has laid out the whole story of Paul White and the Capitol releases over the years.  There are many more albums to discover and collector's conundrums to be solved.  There's a very cool feature there now which included some audio from CHUM-FM in 1970, a series that looked back at the career of The Beatles, just as the band had split.  You listen to that, I'm going back to the stacks to find those T-6000 releases.

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