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Music / Past Masters

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The standard cover of Past Masters.

Past Masters is a compilation album by The Beatles, released in 1988.

So, why does an odds-and-ends compilation have a TV Tropes page, and why might a fan acquire this collection? Here's why:

  • In the British music industry in the 1960s it was commonplace for singles to be released only as singles, not appearing on an artist's albums. So the bulk of the Beatles' singles, including many of their most famous songs such as "She Loves You" and "Hey Jude", do not appear on any of their thirteen studio albums.note 
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  • The B-sides of those singles of course also do not appear on albums. Some of those B-sides are well known, like "Revolution" and "Don't Let Me Down", and others are obscure, like "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)".
  • A few songs were released as singles with different takes than appeared on studio albums. Past Masters includes the original single version of "Love Me Do" featuring Ringo Starr on drums. It was pulled from the market in 1962 and replaced with another take featuring a session drummer, and that take is the one on Please Please Me. Also, the single mixes of "Let It Be", "Across the Universe", and "Get Back", which are different from the Let It Be album versions, are included here.
  • This collection includes a few other oddities. The band released an EP called Long Tall Sally featuring four songs—three covers and Lennon-McCartney original "I Call Your Name"—which appeared nowhere else. They are included on Past Masters. Additionally, "Sie Liebt Dich" and "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand", the German-language versions of "She Loves You" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" which the Beatles did at the insistence of EMI, are also included here.

Bottom line is, anyone who obtains this compilation along with the thirteen studio albums by The Beatles will have the complete collection of all music commercially released by the band from their 1962 debut to their 1970 break-up. The album was originally issued as two separate volumes, but nowadays they are available together.


Volume One

  1. "Love Me Do" (2:24)
  2. "From Me To You" (1:58)
  3. "Thank You Girl" (2:04)
  4. "She Loves You" (2:21)
  5. "I'll Get You" (2:06)
  6. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (2:27)
  7. "This Boy" (2:16)
  8. "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" (2:27)
  9. "Sie Liebt Dich" (2:20)
  10. "Long Tall Sally" (2:03)
  11. "I Call Your Name" (2:09)
  12. "Slow Down" (2:56)
  13. "Matchbox" (1:59)
  14. "I Feel Fine" (2:20)
  15. "She's A Woman" (3:03)
  16. "Bad Boy" (2:21)
  17. "Yes It Is" (2:43)
  18. "I'm Down" (2:32)

Volume Two

  1. "Day Tripper" (2:50)
  2. "We Can Work It Out" (2:16)
  3. "Paperback Writer" (2:19)
  4. "Rain" (3:02)
  5. "Lady Madonna" (2:18)
  6. "The Inner Light" (2:37)
  7. "Hey Jude" (7:08)
  8. "Revolution" (3:25)
  9. "Get Back" (3:15)
  10. "Don't Let Me Down" (3:35)
  11. "The Ballad Of John And Yoko" (3:00)
  12. "Old Brown Shoe" (3:18)
  13. "Across The Universe" (3:49)
  14. "Let It Be" (3:51)
  15. "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)" (4:19)

Principal Members:

  • George Harrison - guitar, backing and lead vocals, bass, piano, organ, tambura, vibraphone
  • John Lennon - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, organ, harmonium, percussion, bass, maracas, sound effects
  • Paul McCartney - lead vocals, bass, piano, keyboard, organ, drums, maracas, sound effects
  • Ringo Starr - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals, cowbell, chocalho, tambourine, bongos, maracas

You Know My Tropes (Look Up The Number):

  • Absentee Actor: None of the Beatles play on "The Inner Light", which features George on lead vocal, John and Paul very briefly on backup vocal at the end, and Indian session musicians; Ringo is absent. "The Ballad of John and Yoko" features only John and Paul as George and Ringo weren't around and John didn't want to wait for them to get back to London; Paul plays drums.
  • Album Filler: "Bad Boy" was originally recorded solely to fill out the U.S. album Beatles VI. (Beatles VI was a Cut-and-Paste Translation featuring six songs from Beatles for Sale along with some other odds and ends).
  • Alliterative Title: "Bad Boy".
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: John Lennon's "Don't Let Me Down". Paul McCartney interpreted it as, "I'm really stepping out of line on this one. I'm really just letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down."
  • B-Side: This album features a lot of them.
  • Ballad of X: "The Ballad Of John And Yoko", about John and Yoko's "Bed-In" activities for world peace.
  • Boléro Effect: "Hey Jude" uses this in its repeated chorus.
  • Break Up Song: "Yes It Is".
    I could be happy, with you by my side
    If I could forget her, but it's my pride
    Yes it is, yes it is
  • Colour Motif: "Yes It Is"
    Please don't wear red tonight
    Cause red is the colour that will make me blue
    In spite of you
  • Cover Version: "Long Tall Sally", a Little Richard cover. "Slow Down" and "Bad Boy", both Larry Williams covers. "Matchbox", a Carl Perkins cover.
  • Distinct Double Album: The albums consists of two volumes.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: "Let It Be" was inspired by a dream Paul had about his mother, who passed away when he was young.
  • Enfant Terrible: "Bad Boy", about a bad boy who doesn't want to go to school or cut his hair short. He just puts tacks on the teacher's chair, chewing gum in little girl's chair, fed the canary to the neighbours' cat, bathed the cocker spaniel in mother's Laundromat and is only interested in rock 'n' roll.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: "The Inner Light".
    Without going out of my door
    I can know all things on Earth
    Without looking out of my window
    I could know the ways of Heaven
  • Gratuitous German: The incredibly rare "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" and "Sie Liebt Dich", which are the German translated versions of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You", made in an attempt to crack the German market. The band wasn't particularly fond of the idea and as they already correctly predicted it wasn't necessary at all, because the Beatles' songs effectively went through every language barrier world wide. note 
  • Greatest Hits Album: The album is a compilation of singles otherwise unavailable on the studio albums. Some of them can be found on the red and blue "Best Of The Beatles" albums 1962-1966 and 1967-1970, released in 1973: "From Me To You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "I Feel Fine", "Day Tripper", "We Can Work It Out", "Paperback Writer", "Hey Jude", "Revolution" (the hard rock version), "Get Back", "Don't Let Me Down", "The Ballad Of John And Yoko", "Old Brown Shoe", "Across The Universe" and "Let It Be". The rest never charted or are extremely rare.
  • Important Haircut: The bad little child in "Bad Boy" ought to get an haircut.
    Going tell your mama you better do what she said
    Get to the barber shop and get that hair cut off your head
  • In the Style of...: "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)" sounds more like a The Bonzo Dog Band number than a Beatles song, although the final part is very much in the style of The Goon Show.
  • "I Want" Song: "Paperback Writer".
    Because a need a job and I want to be a paperback writer
  • Love Informant: "She Loves You".
    And you know that can't be bad!
  • Made Myself Sad: "I'm Down".
    How can you laugh, when you know I'm down?
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Just the title in a white/black cover.
  • New Sound Song: "The Inner Light" features sitar music.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Invoked in "Paperback Writer", in which a man who wants to be a paperback writer has written a book about a man who wants to be a paperback writer.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The title doesn't appear in any of the lyrics. "The Inner Light"'s title doesn't appear in the lyrics either.
  • Obsession Song: "I'll Get You", "I Call Your Name", where the protagonist's longing for his loved one is reaching Stalker with a Crush levels.
  • One-Man Song: "This Boy", "Bad Boy".
  • One-Woman Song: "Long Tall Sally", "She's A Woman", "Day Tripper" and "Lady Madonna".
  • One-Word Title: "Matchbox", "Rain".
  • Pep-Talk Song: "We Can Work It Out", about the hop of finding a way out of a heavy argument. "Hey Jude", where a sad person is cheered up.
  • The Power of Rock: "Bad Boy", in which the bad little boy's only interest is playing "rock 'n' roll music all night".
  • Protest Song: "Get Back", aimed at the anti-immigration laws that were under consideration in Great Britain in 1969.
  • Rain, Rain, Go Away: "Rain" is, according to Lennon, a mockery of this mindset and general excessive griping about weather.
  • Recycled In Space: "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" are in German. "Love Me Do" is only slightly different from the official studio single. "Revolution" is a much more rocking version than the calmer, gentle version found on "The White Album". "Across The Universe" is also mostly the same, save for a different sound effect at the start note .
  • Refuge in Audacity: At the time "The Ballad Of John And Yoko" didn't receive much airplay, because of Lennon's use of the word "Christ!" as a swear word. This lack of commercial attention is probably one of the reasons why it is the lowest-selling Beatles single in existence.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: "The Ballad Of John And Yoko", in which John and Yoko's travel everywhere and are met with scorn, disbelief and venom, until they finally arrive back in the UK and people say "it's good to have both of you back".
  • Shout-Out: "The Inner Light" has lyrics taken from the 47th chapter of the Tao Te Ching (see Taoism). The song itself would inspire the title and premise for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Inner Light".
    Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes place) under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (from himself), the less he knows. Therefore the sages got their knowledge without travelling; gave their (right) names to things without seeing them; and accomplished their ends without any purpose of doing so.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Love Me Do" (a slightly different version than the official studio release), "From Me To You", "Thank You Girl", "She Loves You", "I'll Get You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "This Boy", "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand", "Sie Liebt Dich", "Long Tall Sally", "I Call Your Name", "Slow Down", "Matchbox", "I Feel Fine", "She's A Woman". The genuine silliest must be "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)".
  • Special Guest: Brian Jones plays saxophone on "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)".
  • Stock Sound Effects: A water bird flying away across a river at the start of "Across The Universe".
  • Subliminal Seduction: "Rain" features a tape loop where the singing is played backwards.
  • Title Drop: "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)".
  • The Unintelligible: The mumbling near the end of "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)".
  • Walk the Earth: "Matchbox".
    I said I'm sitting here wondering
    Matchbox hole in my clothes
    I ain't got no matches
    But I sure got a long way to go


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