At Last – A Genuine US “Let It Be” LP

I have had in the collection for some time now a record that I thought was an original US pressing of the Beatles Let It Be.

You know the one. It comes in a gatefold cover, red Apple label on the vinyl, catalogue number AR 34001, red Apple on the rear cover:


The copy I have had for oh, maybe 30 years, looked genuine enough. That is until I read that this is one of the most counterfeited vinyl records of all time…..

When I started to look into it some more I discovered that what I had in my collection was actually a fake.

And it was only two weeks ago, after finally picking up a genuine copy at a record fair, that I could conduct a side-by-side analysis to spot the differences. Here are the tell-tale signs.

Firstly a close-up of the real cover:DSC01123

And here is the illegal copy:DSC01124

As you can see the skin tones on the photo of George Harrison are much more grainy on the fake. Also notice the white borders around each photo. They are much thicker on the counterfeit.

Next, a close-up of the red Apple label. The genuine copy is first, the fake is second:DSC01115DSC01125

Though this is not a definitive decider, the counterfeit label I have lacks vibrancy. It is washed out and dull. Some stock of legitimate pressings may also have a duller appearance – depending on which Capitol plant they were pressed.

The best proof that you have a legitimate copy is in the run-out area of the vinyl itself. There should be the words “Bell Sound” stamped there on both sides (the fake will not have this). It’s difficult to photograph but here goes. First, Side 1:DSC01117

And Side 2:DSC01121

Genuine Let It Be pressings with the red Apple were mastered at Bell Sound by a guy named Sam Feldman and that’s why you can see his initials “sf” scratched into the vinyl above. Fakes don’t have that Bell Sound stamp, but the people who made the illegal copies did try to imitate the originals by including the “sf” initials too.

Furthermore, depending on the Capitol pressing plant they originate from, legitimate pressings will have either the letters “IAM” in a triangle (Scranton PA), an asterisk (Los Angeles CA), or a mark that is supposed to resemble a rifle (Winchester VA). One of these will be stamped somewhere in the run-out area of the vinyl. It should be properly machine stamped on both sides.

As you can see, mine is from the Scranton plant so it looks like this:DSC01119The fakers tried to imitate this too – but it they did just a crude drawing which you can see here:

DSC01129(By the way, the “IAM” in the triangle stands for the International Association of Machinists Union whose workers ran the pressing plant).

FYI, here is a handy list of the markings from each of the Capitol pressing plants:screen-shot-2022-04-18-at-5.27.19-pmIt was Sam Feldman who also scribbled the words “Phil + Ronnie” on the dead wax. This was for Phil Spector (who produced Let It Be) and his wife, singer Ronnie Spector:DSC01122

Non-legitimate copies also have “Phil + Ronnie” scratched in the play-out area of the disc but the writing is much smaller.

So that’s it. Your guide to real and fake copies of Let It Be.

Label Variations – Part Two – Let It Be

Late last year I posted a couple of label variations from my collection of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band vinyl LP’s.

That page has been getting a few hits, so here is another selection – this time for Let It Be. Again, a couple of vinyl label variations from around the world. I don’t have as many copies of Let It Be as I do Sgt. Pepper, but am still looking!

I guess the place to start is with the original UK Apple version:

The original UK green Apple

As you’ll probably know, in the UK the very earliest copies of Let It Be were released in a lavish box-set and came with a thick book of text, dialogue extracts and photographs from the film “Let It Be”. Those box-sets, which had the catalogue number PCS-1, now fetch very good prices and in good condition are very collectable. While the box-set’s number was PCS-1, the record inside and all subsequent releases actually had the catalogue number PCS 7096, which you can see in the image above. After stocks of the box-set sold out Let It Be was only ever available as a single sleeve album.

In Australia early copies also came in a similar box-set with the book, and it had the green Apple label. The only real variation was that the catalogue number for the box was PXS-1, and the record number was PCSO 7096.

The first Australian pressing – with green Apple label

Meanwhile, across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand Beatle fans also got a box-set and book for a short time (though I’ve never actually seen one of these from NZ) and then a single sleeve cover after that. Their pressing has New Zealand’s particular version of the green Apple:

An early example of the New Zealand pressing

As you can see, in New Zealand the catalogue number was PCSM 7096. You can click here for a comprehensive list of which countries around the world got the box-set and book, plus some further info on variations.

In the United States they did something different again. For some reason it was decided not to provide the book and box set, and only make the record available in a gate-fold cover. Inside the gate-fold were just a small selection of the photographs from the book that was released in other markets. The other big variation was that the record label itself was not green, but red:

The US pressing – with unique red Apple

I believe that this version of Let It Be was very widely bootlegged in a very accurately reproduced cover and so there are consequently a lot of very good fakes out there, complete with the red Apple label. There is some information here on how to tell if you have a fake. My copy has a fairly washed-out looking label and I suspect it may well not be an authentic original….I’m going to do some more digging.

Later US copies went from the Apple to Capitol labels:

The purple US Capitol label

Among my Let It Be copies I have a couple of Asian pressings. They can be hard to identify exactly because in some territories they imported the covers from the UK and just inserted locally pressed vinyl. That’s particularly true with pressings from Hong Kong because at the time it was a British protectorate with lots of ties back to the “mother” country. I think this Apple label below is a Hong Kong pressing, but I’m not sure…

What I think is a pressing from Hong Kong

This next one is a little easier to identify – it actually says on the back cover it is made and printed in Malaysia. Having said that, the record label is very similar (with a few variations) to the suspected Hong Kong pressing above:

A Malaysian pressing – with green Apple

This next one is probably the most different and unusual. I picked this up in 1992 – the year of it’s release. Its the Russian pressing on the AnTrop label. I think this particular record was produced in St Petersburg because around the AnTrop logo are the words “consummari in unum St.Petersburg” (Thank you to the fantastic Beatles On Vinyl, site which has an absolute wealth of information about every Russian/USSR Beatles release):

The AnTrop Records Russian pressing of Let It Be

Finally, up almost to the present day and the most recent US vinyl pressings of the album – the so called “Limited Edition” re-issues from Capitol/Apple in the United States a few years ago. For these they resurrected the green Apple but with the variation of a white background instead of the usual black. Notice the Parlophone logo also appears on the right-hand side:

The US Capitol/Apple re-issue

Finally, an very unusual one sent in by Andrey, who is a collector who lives in Russia. This one is a rare one – “Let It Be” from Guatemala:

Well, that’s a quick trawl through just some of the different label variations for Let It Be on vinyl. Of course vinyl copies of the album are still readily available in the UK, though I don’t have a copy. In fact the whole Beatles catalogue is still in print on vinyl there.

I wonder if Apple Records will come good on the rumours that were circulating last year when the new Remastered CD’s and box sets came out? There was talk that a vinyl box-set was in preparation – on audiophile-quality, 180 gram vinyl. Nice!

See also:  Label Variations – Part One – Sgt. Pepper

See also: Label Variations – Part Three – McCartney’s Choba B CCCP