Monday, 3 November 2014

The Beatles: Non-Album Songs Part One: 1958-1963



[A) Take five talented teenagers, a skiffle craze, a bit of spare pocket money (£1 each) and a portable disc-cutting machine in the house of a goods-ship owner and you have both side of the one and only recording session by 'The Quarrymen', the first incarnation of The Beatles. Buddy Holly's [1]  'That'll Be The Day' is a natural for any skiffle band and considering the cramped recording conditions (it is only 1958 and this is Percy Phillips' living room turned into an ad hoc recording studio after all), not to mention the fact that the band are recording a disc simply to play to each other and a few friends rather than sell it to promoters, the band are remarkably together here. There's no Pete Best yet, never mind Ringo, with one of John's schoolfriends Colin Hanton taking that role and another, John Lowe, busking on piano (not McCartney as often assumed). Sadly both will be gone before the end of the year, a shame because while you can't hear Colin too well John Lowe was clearly a key part of the band's sound in these early days. An 18-year-old Lennon takes the lead vocal and is all over it, singing with more attack than Buddy Holly's more laidback original, while the band connect on a nice little groove behind him, with a 15-year-old George turning in a fine guitar solo which straddles the past while pointing to the future. Paul, meanwhile, restricts himself to an inaudible guitar part and some high harmony parts that don't quite come off (ah well, cut his some slack - he was only 16!) The Beatles will do better later cover versions, of course (this is all quite different to the raw intensity of 'Twist and Shout' and 'Long Tall Sally') but the remarkable thing is how much this informal, made-on-the-cheap recording points towards the future Beatle sound, like a beast breaking at the leash to get free. How amazing that it should have survived so many years intact: John Lowe, the last member of the band to get his turn at owning the copy for a week, got to keep it when the others forgot about it and moved onto other things - thank goodness for the sake of musical history that he kept it so safe because the band never did make a second copy of it. Reportedly Paul bought the disc off his old colleague for a tidy sum to use for the Anthology project and it is now safely tucked away as a prize possession in his personal archives.  Hear it on: 'Anthology One' (1995) (unless you're Paul McCartney, of course, when you can hear it on the original!)
B) Talking of straining at the leash to break free, evidence of just how far ahead of the pack The Beatles were is what they recorded for the B-side: a group original back in the days when nobody recorded their own songs! Lennon sings the lead vocal, with rather better harmonies from Paul this time, but [2]  'In Spite Of All The Danger' is actually the one and only collaboration between Paul and George in all the friends' many years of working together (although debate has since raged about whether the credit is a retrospective one: there's no label on the original disc, not even anything saying 'The Quarrymen' or the track titles, so is this a Paul song given a co-write to George to help his old friend out during a difficult time - and make peace during the making of an 'Anthology' project Harrison wasn't too keen to get involved in?) The song is distinctly 1950s in feel, with a sleepy 12 bar blues solo  and a few country twinges - the sort of thing you could imagine Lonnie Donegan doing during a 'slow' ballad spot in his shows. However, the song is remarkable for a band so young and with so little experience (remember, Paul wrote this while he was still at school!) and John especially is spot-on the money with his mock American drawl. Would that all legends started with a recording this strong - how different fate might have been had Brian Epstein been given access to this recording, which is both tighter and more original than the audition tape the band later did for Decca (and, to be honest what's been heard from those EMI audition/first recording sessions in September 1962). Hear it on: 'Anthology One' (1995) (unless you're Paul McCartney, of course, when you can hear it on the original!)
[3] C) 'Hallelujah I Love Her So' dates from a couple of years later and features the harder rock edge which has crept into the band's sound as The Beatles devolve to their 'core trio' of John, Paul and George and move away from skiffle. A Ray Charles hit from 1957, The Beatles dispense with all the gospel elements of the original and turn it into a rocker for guitar and one voice (the latter is certainly Paul's - presumably the former is too). The result isn't quite as classy as the band's later take on Charles' 'I Got A Woman' for the BBC, but again it's pretty darn good for an unsigned bunch of teenagers out to impress nobody but themselves. Nobody seems to quite know where the tape for this and the other 1960 recordings come from by the way - it hadn't been widely bootlegged before release on 'Anthology' and yet none of the band claim it in Anthology's sleevenotes or in the press of the time. Rumour has it it's a recording made by Paul, though, when the band were around at his house and was recorded in his bathroom! (Hence all the echo!) Hear it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
[4] D) 'You'll Be Mine', dating from the same sessions, should be gold dust: it's the earliest recording we have of a Lennon-McCartney original! However, in many ways this silly 100 second song begins the pair's writing career the way that 'You Know My Name (look Up The Number)' - recorded in 1967 but released on the back of the band's last single 'Let It Be' two years later - ended it: with a spoof novelty act meant as an in-joke rather than to save the world. Paul sings lead in his best cod-operatic voice (very like his 'Dennis O'Bell' part on that 1969 song) while John chips away beside him like the missing member of 'Pinky and Perky'. The effect is rather unsettling, hissing away at you on tape from 55-odd years ago with the context and meaning behind the song removed (the sleevenotes don't help matters much either...) However parts are genuinely funny, especially Lennon in his best 'Peter Sellers voice' telling us: 'My darling, when you brought me that toast the other morning I looked into your eyes, and that national health eyeball...', thus sending up just about every white single of the 1950s. Love these goon shows! (John's scream at the end is pretty good too!) Incidentally, this and the next track is the only recorded session with Stuart Sutcliffe on guitar: frankly the tape's too hissy and the arrangement cluttered to hear him much, but it's great that he's there and far from being the weakest element in the band he seems to be keeping the band together more than anything... Hear it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
 E) The band's final recording from 1960 is the rather pretty Shadows copy [5] 'Cayenne', a guitar instrumental credited just to Paul although presumably that's George playing the 'second lead' to his main riff. 'Cayenne' is an odd song all round: it's nothing like the other songs in the band's repertoire (even the later instrumental 'Cry For A Shadow' is much more 'Beatley' than this) and the name alone is puzzling: it's the capital of French Guiana which isn't somewhere the band had ever been (at this stage the band haven't been any further from home than France and Germany). If it's an 'imaginative' piece, intended to invoke the area, though it doesn't - this song is distinctly mid-1950s Middle America. If nothing else, though it reveals just how varied The Beatles' early setlist was and begs the question: what other songs from this period were written by the band but now lost in the ether?! Hear it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
A) The band's first official record didn't feature their name or even their lead vocals: as all good Beatle fans know John, Paul, George and Pete Best are instead backing late 1950s superstar Tony Sheridan. By the time these sessions were recorded - in a single day on 22nd June 1961 in the assembly hall of a local Kindergarten - Sheridan's star was waning, his backing band had given up after missed dates and last-minute cancellations and Sheridan needed a hot young band in a hurry. Fate brought him to the Star Club where a star-struck Beatles, desperate to record and already good friends after a week spending time together watching each other play, agreed to anything: even material that's best described as 'odd' and 'old fashioned' even by 19609 standards and their re-christening as 'The Beat Brothers' on the original single because 'Beatles' sounded too much like 'peedles', German slang for, err, 'penises'. ('My Bonnie' backed with 'The Saints', the only songs from this session released until The Beatles broke big on the world's scene). The result is understandably rushed and while you sympathise with all the mixers who've come to these recordings since and tried to tweak the sound to make Sheridan sound like he's backing the Beatles, the original is best: Sheridan was a great singer even giving Lennon a run for his money and The Beatles' backing is hot for such short notice (the Beatles had reportedly just come off a seven-hour shift at Hamburg's Top Ten Club but they sound like they're good for another seven hours here...). Once again George is the star, with some terrific swinging guitar solos, much rawer than anything that make the band's later records, although John and Paul's whoops and yells are a delight.  Spare a thought, though, for Pete Best who plays the session of his life on the drums, driving the band on with simple four-to-the-bar patterns all the way through - and the thanks he gets is a recording that makes him sound like he's playing down a wind tunnel! He deserves better posterity than this...These singles, though primitive, are of course key in The Beatles story: had they not made them then 'Raymond Jones' (who may or may not exist) wouldn't have been able to ask Brian Epstein for the single and he might never have met the band.
[6] 'My Bonnie' is the session's most famous track and for good reason: it's the best thing here by a country mile, opening with a deceptive folky part that really shows off The Beatles' fine harmonies before putting down the hammer for a storming rock arrangement that matches all but the finest Beatles recording to come. Yes the song itself is nothing special: a Scottish folk song allegedly about attempts to bring 'Bonnie' prince Charlie the second back to the throne sung by Royalists behind Cromwell's back 'in code' that doesn't really survive being thrust into the hands of some away-from-home teenagers and a fading rock star 200-odd years later. legend has it that the song was regularly requested of both halves of the partnership by drunken sailors away from home and missing their girlfriends. However the arrangement does: the song charges out of the blocks as if to blow all the 1950s cobwebs away , George plays his single best guitar solo for at least three years (it's certainly his longest, chipping and charging across some pretty tricky chord changes), Pete Best sounds like he's single-handedly building a channel tunnel to get the narrator and his girl back together and Paul is having great fun with yelps, howls and a 'funny voice'. Only Lennon sounds out of sorts, perhaps because Sheridan is playing the part he so badly wants to play (and usually does). The result is a record that, actually even more than 'Love Me Do', deserved to be a break-through hit and do better than hit an American peak of #26 in January 1964 in the precious Beatle-starved month in between 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' being a #1 hit but before the first Ed Sullivan show. Strangely the single never charted at all in the UK and despite Paul's comments on Anthology that the song hit #5 in the German charts on first release I haven't found any evidence for that either! Find it on: 'Anthology One' and any decent compilation of the 'Tony Sheridan' years - 'My Bonnie' (1962), 'The Beatles with Tony Sheridan' (1964), 'In The Beginning' (1970), 'Beatle Bop - Hamburg Days' (2001) and 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013).
[7] B) 'Ain't She Sweet?' is one of the songs that The Beatles got to record solo as a 'thankyou' and to use up the rest of the time before the recording machine had to be packed away. Typically, it's Lennon who gets the only lead vocal of the sessions, but less typical is his choice of song: 'Ain't She Sweet' is a cute and rather silly Tin Pan Alley song of the sort The Beatles were all set to blow away for good (even Gene Vincent's version - presumably the one that Lennon knew best - isn't that rocky or 'straight' by his usual standards). What's more, Lennon only ever sang it again when messing around during the making of 'Let It Be' (he didn't even sing it for the BBC when they were short of songs or at the Star Club tapes from the following year) and I've never heard any Cavern attendee raving about that song, unlike most of the band's repertoire from those days, suggesting he didn't think much of it. Was Lennon still hoping for the band to get their own record deal and reluctant to throw away anything good? However, that's to reckon without his sterling vocal, which is all leer and menace and makes any of the many previous recordings of the song redundant in a stroke. The rest of the band are right there too: Paul's busy bass is right at the heart of the action, George fits in another more tentative solo this time and Pete is fantastic, nailing the song's tricky time signatures without batting an eye-lid. A new sound is coming and it's almost here... Find it on: 'Anthology One' and any decent compilation of the 'Tony Sheridan' years - 'My Bonnie' (1962), 'The Beatles with Tony Sheridan' (1964), 'In The Beginning' (1970), 'Beatle Bop - Hamburg Days' (2001) and 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013).
[8] C) 'Cry For A Shadow' is, this time, the only ever recorded collaboration between John and George, a second Shadows-y instrumental but this time with more of a Beatle swing to it. Sheridan again doesn't appear: he'd already gone home, with an hour of the session still to go, having done all he needed to do. Again, it's odd that The Beatles chose to record something so completely unlike their usual sound and unlike the later Decca audition they didn't even have the get-out clause of a nervous Brian Epstein whispering ideas down their ears. There are four things to listen out for: one is George's fiery guitar solos which are again the highlight of a cooking band, John's eager strumming which already breaks every conventional music rule in the book, Pete Best's fierce drums who by now is audibly getting tired but still hammers with a rattle that will shake bones and Paul's first ever use of his later famous Hoffner bass on a recording, with a lovely full sound that even an echoey hall can't dispel. In short, the ingredients are all there and in some parallel universe where The Shadows stayed kings another few years 'Cry For A Shadow' would have remained a pretty neat pretender to the throne. Find it on: 'Anthology One' and any decent compilation of the 'Tony Sheridan' years - 'My Bonnie' (1962), 'The Beatles with Tony Sheridan' (1964), 'In The Beginning' (1970), 'Beatle Bop - Hamburg Days' (2001) and 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013).
[9] D) 'Why?' is a rather drippy Tony Sheridan ballad that the singer wrote with his co-writer Bill Crompton. Sensibly buried to the bottom of the 'My Bonnie' era pack, this track doesn't often get a hearing and in fact wasn't heard at all until 1964 (when Polydor, having bought up the rights to these sessions, first released it as the B-side of 'Cry For A Shadow'. Even at the height of Beatlemania few fans bought it though). However The Beatles perform some fun 'Say You'll be Mine' style harmonies and there's a neat rocky part in the middle of the song that works really well. Find it on: 'Beatle Bop - Hamburg Days' (2001) and 'I Saw Her Standing There'
[10] E) More popular - and important - is Tony and The Beatles' take on another standard song, 'When The Saints Go Marching In', here reduced to a simple 'The Saints', that was already in the set lists of quite a few Liverpudlian bands (The Searchers recorded a cracking version for their second LP 'Sugar and Spice' under the name 'Saints and Searchers'). A gospel song about joining in on judgement day, it's an ironic choice for a band to sing in a town that was already getting a name for being the height of depravity. Sheridan's silly vocal isn't one of his best but the song does get better as it goes along. The Beatles hit a real groove behind him, especially Paul and Ringo's rhythm section, with a guitar solo from George similar to 'My Bonnie' and a nice play with dynamics that the band won't attempt again until 'Shout!' in 1964.  In retrospect 'My Bonnie' is clearly the standout song, but this deserved better than to be stuck in a vault for years, first appearing on the American album simply titled 'The Beatles' First' in April 1964 part of a whole rush of albums out in the months after the Ed Sullivan Shows. Find it on: 'Beatle Bop - Hamburg Days' (2001) and 'I Saw Her Standing There'
[11] F) By far the most obscure song The Beatles recorded during the 'My Bonnie' sessions is a rather precious rendering of Cy Coben and Mel Foree's song 'Nobody's Child'. A favourite of both George (who'll re-record it with The Travelling Wilburys for a charity LP in 1990) and Ringo (back in the days when every Liverpool kid had their own 'stage piece' this was his and he used to make his mother Elsie cry!), it seems another odd choice for a band recording wall-to-the-floor rock and roll (to be fair Lonnie Donegan had done it in 1956 but in 1960 skiffle was passé). The performance, like the song, is insincere with Sheridan unconvincing as the blind orphan nobody wants to adopt - although the lines about 'just like a flower I'm growing up wild' are probably closer to the truth! Many compilers of the 'My Bonnie' recordings tend to miss this one out, perhaps because even more than the other recordings here it just doesn't sound like The Beatles, and it's even missing from the 'I Saw Her Standing There' compilation which contains all the recordings made later by German band The Swallows also under the name 'The Beat Brothers', a fact that's confused more than a few Beatlenuts over the years! However it was first issued as the B-side of 'Ain't She Sweet' in mid-1964. Find it on: 'Beatle Bop - Hamburg Days' (2001)
[12] G) 'Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby' is a sillier song than most. Sheridan croons like a diet brand of Elvis while the Beatles get out their acoustic guitars, to not much effect to be honest. Even George, the most reliable Beatles so far in these sessions, fluffs his solo quite badly- author Jimmy Reed's songs are often an excuse for AAA bands to muck around, but this one is even worse than what both The Byrds and Neil Young did to 'Baby What You Want Me To Do?' To think that the greatest band of their generation is being hired for a silly song about the narrator needing assurance as much as insurance that his girl's always going to be true to him. The Beatles' flat playing might be accounted for by the fact that both this and the next song come from a slightly later session in the first half of 1962, by which time The Beatles - while still unsigned and without a record deal - were big enough to resent playing back-up to a singer on the slide, even one they considered a friend. The biggest talking point is Sheridan's use of 'damn' in the lyrics - enough to receive a radio ban even in 1964 and presumably the band knew only too well the recording wouldn't be used at the time because of it. The weakest of all the Sheridan recordings The Beatles play on, this recording wasn't even thought good enough to make the cash-in 1964 LP and was first released as the B-side to the single 'Sweet Georgia Brown', Polydor's third and final single from the sessions. Find it on: 'Beatle Bop - Hamburg Days' (2001)
[13] H) 'Sweet Georgia Brown' isn't that much of an improvement, though, to be honest, with some truly awful drumming from Pete Best and disinterested performances from everyone else. As a song this jazz standard from the 1920s (written, allegedly, for American politician Dr Thaddeus Brown, who named his daughter 'Georgia' after the state he represented) is flimsy, throwaway stuff and is less suited to The Beatles' rock beat than anything they did in 1961. However, at least you can hear The Beatles on this one with Lennon especially loud on the backing vocals and Sheridan adds a fun ad lib about the daring, pretty Georgia who 'while in Liverpool even dared to criticise the Beatles' hair, while their fanclub were standing there!'  This suggests that The Beatles already had a significant following by early 1962 - enough for Tony Sheridan to know where his bread was buttered in terms of potential sales anyway! This song lacks the fun of the earlier recordings, though, and ultimately Sheridan's spoof shout in the middle ('not too commercial boys!') rather sums up the record: a pretty limp mess all round which must have really embarrassed the Beatles when it came out in 1964. Find it on: 'Beatle Bop - Hamburg Days' (2001) and 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013)
And that is that from Hamburg for the time being. Well, probably. The Beatles were regular letter writers during their time away from home and wrote about what songs they performed at both sessions - and a third song taped at the 1962 meeting, 'Swannee River', is often quoted as being by them. The band certainly recorded it (and let's face it, while an odd choice Stephen Foster's song would have made perfect sense in the context of 'My Bonnie' and 'The Saints') and there is a version of 'Swannee River' that appears on more than a few Hamburg-era recordings purporting to be The Beatles. However the band are adamant that this is a re-recording by 'The Swallows', possibly based on an original Beatles arrangement - and seeing as they owned up to 'Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby' they have no reason to lie!


[14] A) This section of the book is devoted to the songs The Beatles recorded at their Decca audition on January 1st 1962, arranged for the band by a very proud Brian Epstein, who was determined to start the year with a bang. However, while it all came right at year's end, at first the most important of Beatle breakthrough years, started very very badly indeed. People who were alive in Britain in early 1962 still talk about how horrendous the weather was that year and even The Beatles weren't immune getting caught up in a heavy snowdrift that made them two hours later for their London audition. Things only got worse when the band were told that they would be playing on equipment arranged for them - which automatically took away much of the power and fury from The Beatles' now road-weary amplifiers. Add in understandable nerves (the closest the band had been to a proper recording institution before this was a school assembly hall and someone's living room), the fact that Decca would only allow the band one take for each song and a Brian Epstein-censored setlists that took most of the heavier rock numbers away and suddenly you begin to see why the band were turned down. The biggest shock is what's happened to George Harrison: the band's quiet star on the Quarrymen, Tony Sheridan and Hamburg tapes, belying his tender age, he seems to have turned into a music hall comedian for this tape which is far from his finest hour (not that his colleagues are much better - John and Paul are muted and most of Pete Best's poor reputation amongst fans dates back to this tape, which is far worse than his playing for Tony Sheridan). Blame for missing the chance of a lifetime (EMI had already said 'no' once before this before Epstein tried again later in the year, sensibly ditching this tape in the process) is often laid at the door of both Mike Smith (who was the biggest name present in the studio that day) and Decca president Dick Rowe (who heard the tape later and agreed that 'guitar bands are on their way out' in a rather sniffy rejection letter to Epstein). However I'm not sure I would have wanted to hire The Beatles on the evidence of this tape alone: as similar early 'show-reels' featuring The Searchers ('The Iron Door Sessions'), The Kinks (when they were still 'The Ravens') and The Who (when they were still 'The High Numbers') proves, there were lots of bands around in the early 1960s who could do passable cover versions of 1950s songs with a slightly rockier sound; while The Beatles' eclecticism is on the tape, their originality isn't, with only a nicely heavy versions of future Beatle standard 'Money' really impressing and only three Lennon-McCartney songs in total (while musical historians never agree on how many songs John and Paul really had written by 1962 they all agree it was a lot more than this, with 'I Lost My Little Girl' 'One After 909' and 'I Saw Her Standing There' as well as all the above recordings written by this stage and noticeable by their absence from this tape). We've chosen not to deal with every recorded song here: an awful lot of them will be replicated in similar form for either the band's radio broadcasts for the BBC across 1963 or occasionally proper Beatle albums; what's more the entire Decca tape only came out semi-officially (under the 50-year copyright law) on 'I Saw Her Standing There' in 2013 anyway - to date only five of the 15 songs have ever been released on a Beatles-sanctioned product ('Anthology One'). However the full line-up of what The Beatles recorded that Wintry day is as follows: 'Like Dreamers Do' 'Money (That's What I Want)' ''Til There Was You' 'The Sheikh Of Araby' 'To Know Her Is To Love Her' 'Take Good Care Of My Baby' 'Memphis, Tennessee' 'Sure To Fall (In Love With You)' 'Three Cool Cats' 'Crying Waiting Hoping' 'Love Of The Loved' 'September In The Rain' 'Besame Mucho' and 'Searchin'.
'Like Dreamers Do' is a deeply-under rated Lennon-McCartney (mostly McCartney) song that's significant for a whole host of reasons and deserves greater respect from the Beatles clientele. Although the song never came out at the time, it is the earliest recording to share a John/Paul writing credit, it's the first Beatles original with lyrics since 1958 (and only the second in total!), while it will later end up becoming one of the first celebrated 'songs the Beatles gave away' - Decca managing to get some revenge when a version by their Beatle-likes The Applejacks made it as far up the UK singles charts as #20 at a time when the band's name didn't necessarily mean lots of automatic sales. Admittedly 'Like Dreamers Do' is a little creaky by the band's later standards, with lots of throwbacks to a 1950s style the band were about to change for all time: Paul croons rather than sings, giving the song a sort of insincerity that even his obvious enthusiasm can't quite shake off. What's more McCartney has admitted since that it's a song he's rather ashamed of and was glad to throwaway. However he's wrong (Paul's biggest weakness is not being able to work out which are his 'good' and 'bad' songs, a theme we'll come to more in his solo work when Lennon isn't around to tell him): 'Like Dreamers Do' is a cute song, better written than most 1950s twee ballads and with a tongue-in-cheek laughter that sounds like it's making fun of the whole thing anyway. Always one for a rounded melody even at this early stage, the ability of this song to match up that many different sections and then still sound like a simple, not-trying-too-hard pop song is a rarity (juts listen to the casual way the Beatles throw in a false ending at 2:25, suddenly going back through the chord-ascending tag before falling back on a self-satisfied final chord. The result is a song that has it's cake and eats it, falling into the trap of all the records The Beatles already considered passé but with a twinkle in the eye that suggests that they've already come up with a solution. The first song to be taped at the audition, I'd have hired them for this song alone when I heard it was an original (and then regretted it a few songs later!) Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
[15] B) 'The Sheikh Of Araby' is an early example of a Beatles novelty song - you know the sorts of things, Yellow Submarines, Octopuses in gardens, basically anything sung by Ringo. In this early stage, though, it was George who brought the comedy nous to the band and it was him who pushed for the band to cover the songs of Joe Brown, Britain's most talented skiffle singer after Lonnie Donegan, whose songs will be filling up the British charts for some time to come ('I'm Henerey The Eighth I Am' makes even Herman's Hermits sound appealing, which takes quite some doing). George will later strike up a big friendship with Joe, who sang the final song at Harrison's memorial concert in 2002 - a fact that would have meant more to him than any amount of more famous friends he met along the way. However George's teenage vocals aren't a good fit for this song and, probably due to nerves, Harrison turns in easily his weakest vocal performance on any Beatles recording. perhaps sensing how badly this is going the elder Lennon tries to step in to his rescue, adding some driving rhythm guitar and a witty spoken 'not 'alf' in the chorus (in homage to 'Fluff' Freeman). However it's too little too late: George is only 18 here but he sounds much younger, quite unable to be the exotic harem-pleasing Sheikh of the title. The result, rubber-stamped by Brian Epstein to show how many different things the band can do, probably left the older and rather serious Decca audience of engineers and staff perplexed. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
[16] C) 'Take Good Care Of My Baby' is better, George taking the vocal on a 'straight' song written by Goffin-King and most famous today for appearing on television adverts for baby oil (with Bobby Vee the first of many singing stars to score a hit with it). Had The Beatles been born a decade earlier then they might always have sounded like this: committed pop ballad performers a notch or two above average. Paul and George sound especially good together (interesting that the band are already playing around with the repertoire of voices they have instead of getting all three to sing together every time) and the result is a sweet performance of a sweet song that probably won't have knocked too many socks off and certainly doesn't point ahead to the great things to come, but is well played for a band whose oldest member (Lennon) was all of 21. This track should have come out on 'Anthology One' instead of either Leiber-Stoller song. Find it on: 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013)
[17] D) While most of this audition tape has gone down in history as not that great, Lennon's 'Hello Little Girl' is rightly noted as an exception. His earliest song (dating back to 1956 or 1957 depending which interviewer John was talking to) and reportedly strummed in his bedroom to keep up with Paul while Aunt Mimi kept telling him to 'turn that racket down' Beatleologists have since read much into both this and the song that inspired it, McCartney's 'I Lost My Little Girl' (sadly never recorded by The Beatles although they sang it during sessions a lot. Paul will finally put it on record for his 'Unplugged' concert of 1992). Both tracks have been thought to be about their composer's mothers, but while Paul's is reflective and sad, John's is upbeat and determined to say 'hello', perhaps recounting the memory of 're-discovering' his mother when he was 13 after years of being shut out of her life (an interesting twist on the pair's songwriting traits from then on in). Chances are both John and Paul weren't thinking anything of the sort and just wanted to sound like Elvis, who used the word 'girl' a lot. Lennon's song owes a lot also to Buddy Holly, especially the quick patter and repeated phrases in the middle which are right up Lennon's word-play loving street ('I'm about to lose my mi-mi-mind') While again deeply 1950s in sound and style, The Beatles are already adding little inventions that are purely their own, from the unusual harmony parts (with Paul un-naturally low) to the 'duhn-duhn-duhn-duh!' guitar part which is a particularly inventive way of getting back from 'B' to 'A' again. Given the context of the times and the age Lennon was when he wrote it, not bad at all - no wonder Lennon went to create so many great songs when his starting point was as high as this (the same for McCartney come to that). Once more, if I'd been there at the audition  I'd have hired the band for their originals - and told them to give up on the cover songs. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
[18] E) Alas 'Three Cool Cats' is another step backwards to a repetitive Leiber-Stoller comedy song that simply isn't that funny. The band probably learnt it from The Coasters' repetitive  version in 1959, which isn't that funny either.  George's deadpan vocals (at four vocals per 15-track album this is better odds than he'll ever have again while a Beatle!) try hard, the others less so (Pete Best seems to have gone to sleep, while John and Paul's comedy voices - including an outrageous Indian accent that would have annoyed the later, maturer Harrison no end). Sample daft lyric: 'Those three cool cats really fell in love, those three chicks really made three fools out of three cool cats'. The result is heavy going for even the staunchest Beatles supporters as verse after verse plods through the same tired slang that reveals just how little the middle-aged composers know about teenage slang ('Cats' are boys, 'chicks' are girls in case you were wondering and/or were born after about 1990). Bye-bye boys, we'll phone you - honest... Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
[19] F) The next Beatles original is 'Love Of The Loved', a song mainly written by Paul who sings it here with gusto. Most fans know this song thanks to Cilla Black's rather OTT cover (her first single, in fact, and suggested by Brian who was always fond of this song). However it's Paul's admittedly nervous but still rather swinging version that's the 'keeper'. He handles the switch from introvert to extrovert with more aplomb and manages to add a sincerity lacking in most of the other songs the Beatles recorded that day (suggesting that this song really was 'about' someone - perhaps his Cavern-era girlfriend Dot? - sister of Ringo's old sparring partner Rory Storm - as in 1962 the two had mutually decided to stop seeing each other, perhaps out of shock at Cynthia Lennon getting pregnant and the effects that had on their family) Unusually structured (did Lennon have a hand in the opening melody, as it's twittering chords bear more of his style than McCartney's?) its an inventive song for its day and proof that the Lennon-McCartney team was getting better. Unfortunately the song runs out of ideas a bit too early, cycling back round everything again as early as 1:15  (there's only one verse as well as a chorus) - had Paul written this later he'd have known to add an extra verse to this song at least. Still, yet again The Beatles have come up trumps with one of their own songs, which are clearly the pick of the bunch. Sadly this song wasn't released on 'Anthology' - or indeed any truly 'official' Beatles product (as opposed to tiny record labels making the most of a copyright 50 year ruling) which is a great shame: this is a key Beatles song that deserves to be heard by all; not their best, true, but another important stepping stone towards greatness. Find it on: 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013)
[20] G) 'September In The Rain', another standard dating back to the 1930s most famous for its appearance in the film 'Melody For Two' (perhaps Jim McCartney took his two sons to see a re-issue at the pictures?), sounds like a bit of light relief: rattled off by the Beatles with a simple four-bar swing and a lively 'one-two-boo-boo-be-doo!' count-in from Paul (compare and contrast with the electrifying one that kick-starts 'I Saw Her Standing There'...) However the problem with updating this song is that what should be quiet and intimate (it's about two singers enjoying the rain because the weather is like it was when they first met) now sounds like it's being played through a megaphone. The band can get away with this in Hamburg, where everything needed to sound loud and amplified, but here you can almost hear the Decca executives shuffling in their chairs as the band 'apparently' miss the point of a song they'd have known pretty well. Find it on: 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013)
[21] H) 'Searchin' was a popular song in the North of England, another of those songs everybody used to do (including The Hollies, who cover the song for their second single in mid-1963). I've never been quite sure why though: another slightly arch Leiber-Stoller song first sung by The Coasters, it's almost a recipe for why the 1950s had to end: the tempo  should swing but doesn't even when some of the finest bands in the world play it, the trite backing vocals ('Searchin' over and over again) soon get tiring and the lyrics are full of references to detective shows that really haven't stood the test of time and cause more than a few head-scratches when heard today (or when Anthology One came out): Charlie Chan (a fictional Chinese detective), Joe Friday (an American cop from 'LAPD' and 'Dragnet'), Sam Spade (the detective in 'The Maltese Falcon'), 'Old Blackie' (Jack Boyle's fictional detective), Bulldog Drummond (from the books byH C McNeile under the pen-name 'Sapper')... Paul is on record as being fond of this song though, suggesting it wasn't one simply chosen by Epstein (it's one of the eight records he chose on a 1982 edition of 'Desert Island Discs' along with Lennon's solo 'Beautiful Boy') and he turns in a committed vocal: it's just a shame everyone else sounds asleep again (perhaps that journey South was more tiring than we thought?!) Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)


A) The Beatles made two appearances on BBC radio in 1962, both of which came months before their first single 'Love Me Do'. To date none of these recordings have been released on an official Beatles product, but all six are legally available thanks to the wonders of half-century copyright law. Most of them were re-recorded by the band for later BBC sessions (and sometimes albums) so rather than discuss them twice (or more), we've decided to list just the 'exclusive' songs in this section (don't worry, there's lots more BBC sessions coming up in 1963!) For the record, though, the band performed 'Dream Baby' 'Memphis, Tennessee' and 'Please Mr Postman' for a short-lived programme named 'Teenager's Turn' as early as 7th March 1962 and 'Ask Me Why' 'Besame Mucho' and 'A Picture Of You' for 'Here We Go!' on the 11th June 1962.
[22] 'Dream Baby' is an interesting choice for Paul to sing on what was, at the time, the biggest single piece of exposure the Beatles had ever had (certainly in their homeland). 'Dream Baby' is a slow ballad written by country music legend Cindy Walker (a pioneer back in the days when the only female singer-songwriters tended to be married to their co-writers) and was a natural choice for Roy Orbison to croon to near the top of the charts (George was the big 'O' fan in the band, so perhaps he leant Paul the record?) However it's not a natural choice for a 19-year-old Paul to be singing or to get the Beatles treatment (John's attempts in the background to liven it up with a 'Dream Baby a-ha-ha-ha!' Searchers style chorus don't really work). Pete Best's drums are pretty inventive, though I have to say - a mile away from his work at the Decca audition. Never heard about in the Beatles' repertoire before or since, you can understand why the band might have been reluctant to add it to either official set of BBC recordings. however it's a slice of history that really should have been there and offers a glimpse at yet another alternate path the Beatles might have followed in 1962: the singers of big emotional ballads. Find it on: 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013)
[23] B) George continues his fixation with Joe Brown next, on 'A Picture Of You' - a song that's a lot more likeable and suitable for the band than 'The Sheikh Of Araby'. Sadly the recording is very rough for this second BBC session so a lot of the nuances in this delicate song get lost, but from little we can hear George does a rather better job at getting across the doomed romance vocal and the rest of the band enjoy a song that must have reminded them of their skiffle past. There's an especially fun bit where George adds a guitar frill and an on-form Pete Best answers straight back with a 'bam bam' drum riff, causing the first audible shrieks of Beatlemania some four months before the first single. Again, though, how come the band aren't using this useful publicity to plug either one of their own songs or one of their two standout covers in their set ('Twist and Shout' or 'Some Other Guy') that Cavern-goers are already queuing hours to see? Find it on: 'I Saw Her Standing There' (2013)
Note: The 'I Saw Her Standing There' CD follows these BBC sessions with a reputedly Beatles cover of their 'third' famous cover song of the day: Ray Charles' 'What'd I Say?' However to my ears this little-bootlegged nugget doesn't seem to feature the Beatles at all (my guess is its Gerry and the Pacemakers at the Cavern, but with Gerry's under-rated drummer brother Freddie on lead).
Non-Album Recordings Part #4: 1962 Continued (EMI)
[24]  A) At last, dear readers, we're safely in the comfort of Abbey Road Studios no 2, where the magic will run and run, to the end of this book and more. Finally Brian Epstein's persistence has got somewhere, he's got EMI to agree to a second audition and thankfully for posterity Ron Richards, George Martin's assistant, hears enough in the band's music to get his boss down from the canteen (he's later rewarded with a similar job producing The Hollies, easily EMI's second biggest and most important group until Pink Floyd come along in 1967). George isn't so sure about the music but he loves the band's characters and most importantly connects with their humour (till here George's career has mainly been producing comedy acts, such as Lennon's beloved 'Goons' Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan). After so many rejections, June 6th 1962 is a red letter day for The Beatles: their first day as a signed act inside a proper recording studio. Or is it?! Historians have since looked at the paperwork and questioned whether Brian, by now weary of rallying the troops and with his family on at him to knuckle down and get a 'proper' job, didn't tell his boys that this meeting was another 'audition' rather than a first session. Perhaps hoping to spare the nerves of their Decca audition - and perhaps nervous that the band would fire him as manager after another mistake - Brian simply crossed his fingers and hoped the band and producer would get on (which thankfully they did, give or take Pete Best - George's comment, that he would hire another session drummer simply because that's what producers of wild Northern bands did just then, was taken the wrong way by band and manager and he was sacked. Ringo officially becomes a Beatle on August 14th, some nine weeks after this first session but at first George doesn't like his playing either, relegating the drummer to tambourine and asking the band where Pete was. More on his story later.)
First, however, there's the matter of a few out-takes from the band's first faltering steps towards stardom to get out the way (by rights the finished takes of 'Love Me Do' 'Please Please Me' and B-sides should be here too, but rather than cut up the 'Please Please Me' album into little bits, we've simply mentioned the 'alternate' versions here).
The earliest recording taped at these sessions is not some long lost Lennon-McCartney classic or any of the band's trio of longed-for showstopper covers but 'Besame Mucho' rearing its ugly head again. I'm amazed that this song didn't make it to at least a BBC session given how much of a regular this song has been in The Beatles' life story till now: after near-misses with the Decca audition, the band's second radio session and performances at the Star Club, it now suffers a near-miss after being recorded at the same session as 'Love Me Do'. The problem lies not with the arrangement (which features typical Beatles tricks, such as introducing the full drums on the first verse and a silly 'cha-cha-boom!' hook), but with the song. The Beatles have gone slightly closer to their time - this song is from the 1940s, not 1930s - but it's still a relic from a distant era, when boys could chat up girls with hopelessly false chat-up lines in Italian and Paul could get away with putting on a slightly fake accent (the title literally means 'kiss me a lot' when translated into English). Legend has it that the only way Lennon would tolerate this rather arch song in the act was by relegating it to the early morning shift at Hamburg, the rest of the band jokingly recoiling from Macca as he tried to serenade them with it. While by mid-1962 something of an in-joke (the band would hardly have played it for two years solid if they really did hate it), it speaks volumes that the only Beatle who seems to be enjoying himself is Paul; John and George don't even provide backing vocals, making this first official recording at the first official Beatle session sound nothing like The Beatles as we'll come to know them at all. You have to give marks for persistence, though and the Decca audition tape version is actually one of the better cover songs from that tape. Cha-cha-boom! Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
[25b] B) The first incarnation of 'Love Me Do', meanwhile, suffers from the opposite problem: a promising and, by the standards of the times, great song isn't quite there yet. Perhaps lacking confidence in the song, The Beatles drop down the tempo in the middle to a soft-shoe shuffle that simply brings out all the 'safe' 1950s elements of the song (surprisingly, this is the part of the song that Pete Best seems most comfortable with). Lennon's harmonica lick too is a chirping accompaniment rather than a howl of intent as per the finished version and his harmony vocals a little lacklustre. However, 'Love Me Do' already sounds special: the moments when the band stop trying and the scary circumstances and simply let fly are delightful. George Martin's careful arranging hand, never more important than during the band's first years before they learned how to play with all the recording toys themselves, probably has more to do with this song than we think. This session tape from June was thought 'lost' for decades until digging around for Anthology turned it up - a coup for the project as it allowed the first volume something no bootlegger had yet got hold of. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
[26] C) By now it's 4th September 1962 and EMI were eager for a debut single. The band were adamant that it should be 'Love Me Do' and - after a few tweaks - that's what they got. However George Martin was a good friend of songwriter Mitch Murray and kept telling the band he had the perfect song for a follow-up. 'How Do You Do It?' wasn't quite what the band were looking for (Lennon later dryly commented the band would have been run out of Liverpool the next time they went home if they'd put such a soppy single out!) George, a generation older, probably hadn't realised that the parts of 'Love Me Do' the band were unhappy with (the duhhh-duhhh-dee-doo' and simple rhymes, hidden in their first arrangement by that curious cod-jazz shuffle) were exactly what they hated in this song (it even shares the same 'duhhh-dooo-de-doo' formula) and while suitable for the 1950s didn't fit easily into rock and roll. However, not wishing to upset the hand that fed them, The Beatles learnt it as quickly as they could and rattled it off even quicker so that they could spend more time on their latest song, 'Please Please Me'. 'How Do You Do It?' meanwhile, mercilessly got stuck in a drawer until Brian Epstein suggested it for another of 'his' bands in the process of being signed by EMI, 'Gerry and the Pacemakers'. The song's chirpyness, irritating and false in the Beatles' hands, suited Gerry Marsden's Scouse-cockney persona to a tee and actually outsold 'Please Please Me', although given the damage done so quickly to Gerry and co's career the Beatles arguably had the last laugh and right idea. George Martin, meanwhile, was secretly impressed at the band's ability to say 'no', without trying to make a scene or cause upset and in many ways it's this date that's the start of his real-found respect for the band that have effectively just landed in his lap out of nowhere...
The other big event for this session is that it's Ringo's first time inside a recording studio. In many ways it's a surprise that Rory Storm and the Hurricanes - easily Liverpool's biggest band until about 1961 - didn't make any records before The Beatles (they make two singles in the Beatles' wake, in late 1963 and early 1964, neither of which charted). To be honest, Ringo doesn't yet play anything Pete Best couldn't play and, understandably given the situation, sounds a bit tentative here (he's only been in the band a month and most likely nerves). Arguably more used to rock and roll than the other three (all the Hurricanes tended to play - even in 1962 The Beatles had made a name for themselves as an eclectic band, where you never quite knew what they would play next) he's particularly out of sorts on this track, though he perks up immeasurably for the drum fills in 'Please Please Me'... Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
[25c] D) First, though, is the Beatles' first 'proper' single 'Love Me Do' (the single version!) - and as the fact that you've had to read so many pages to get to it implies, this wasn't overnight success The Beatles had but the culmination of many long years of hard toil, lost opportunities and disappointments. We already cover this song pretty comprehensively on our 'Please Please Me' album review (of course we do - we're Alan's Album Archives), so what we really want to discuss here are the differences between the single and album versions, both taped the same day (September 4th 1962). The biggest change is that the single version features session drummer Andy White on drums and Ringo grumpily hitting a tambourine. In truth there aren't that many differences between the part White plays here and Ringo does on the album (recorded mere hours later, when George Martin finally relents and, with a 'master take' nice and safe, can go back to treating the group courteously again). The fact that Ringo's version made it to the almost-as-coveted album suggests that the band and manager couldn't see the difference either and that White's version was used simply to make the most of the session fee. Ringo, though, was mortified and is reputed to have told fans back in Liverpool that he thought the B-side 'P.S. I Love You' (on which he had a Starr-ing role) should have been the A-side. Released as a single on October 5th 1962 (with 'P.S. I Love You' on the B-side). Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-Released 2009)
[27b] E) Talking of which, this first version of the Beatles' second single 'Please Please Me' - taped a week after 'How Do You Do It?' - is the band's next time inside the studio and (a quick re-run of B-side 'Ask Me Why' on November 26th that year apart) their last until the marathon session that saw ten songs taped within12 hours for the 'Please Please Me' record. Sadly this isn't the 'famous' slower version the band often talk about (and which, sadly, doesn't seem to have been re-recorded), done in the style of Roy Orbison (and perhaps turning out not unlike 'Dream Baby'). However it's noticeably different to the finished version in several subtle ways: There aren't yet any backing harmonies (bands still tended to have one singer back in 1962 - George Martin may not have caught on to the 'group' sound of The Beatles just yet); George's guitar parts are basic and perfunctory rather than shiningly enticing (is the song still so young John and Paul haven't played it to him yet?) and John's 'come on!' s are pretty rather than a rallying cry to war. However, 'Please Please Me' already sounds like a better commercial prospect than 'Love Me Do' (both versions of which were taped earlier the same day). Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)

Non-Album Recordings Part #5: 1962 Continued (Hamburg)

A) This section features a run of songs from the Star-Club, Hamburg, taped sometime between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve 1962, which were never professionally recorded by the band or returned to during their BBC Sessions. They're rough and ready and not meant for public consumption (they were recorded by Star Club boss Adrian Taylor for fellow Liverpudlian King Size Taylor to enjoy at home and he paid The Beatles for it with a round of beers!) but do reveal quite a lot about The Beatles' set lists in late 1962 that might otherwise have been lost forever. For this section we're not going to deal with the whole tape (we've covered it as a whole in our 'Star Club' album review anyway) but with the nine recordings that The Beatles never returned to again and ask whether they might have made suitable Beatle songs one day.
[28] The first of these is a sprightly take on King Curtis' song 'Reminiscing', most famously recorded by Buddy Holly just before his death in 1959. Unusually this Buddy classic A is sung not by Paul, as usual, but by George. The Beatles' arrangement of it is heavier than the original, swamping the original's folky lilt with a sturdy bass of three guitars and a nifty solo from a 19-year-old George that's already light years ahead of either original. It's a nice version in fact, which cuts through the murk of the tape more successfully than some of the other 'Star Club' pieces and is more suited to the band's sound than a lot of George's early covers with the band or indeed the other George/Buddy Holly showcase 'Crying Waiting Hoping', taped for Decca 11 months earlier. For some reason best known to record label Lingasong, this track was only on European editions of the 1977 album, not American copies! Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
[29] B) 'Little Queenie' best known to AAA fans as The Rolling Stones' favoured encore during their late 1960s tours (as it appears on 'Get Yer Ya Yas Out!') A driving Chuck Berry number, it's well suited to bouncing off Hamburg's thin walls and the band are on great form - especially George again who turns in a demented guitar solo Keith Richards would long for and Ringo, whose heavy, simple drumming is much louder than anything he put on record. Paul sings lead, which is odd because John was the big Chuck Berry fan within the band. The band should have revived it at least for a BBC session. Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
[30] C) 'Fallin' In Love Again' is Paul trying to slow the tempo down and fulfils the same function in the set-list as 'Til There Was You' and 'The Honeymoon Song' also did in the band's repertoire. To be honest the song isn't quite as good as either (which is really saying something!) but at least it's a much more original idea: Paul raises the song up to sing quite a few octaves higher than Marlene Deitrich's version and treats the song as a simple pop number rather than a sultry devotion of deepest commitment. The Beatles brighten this Frederich Holleander song (with a translation in English by Sammy Lerner) song with some more strong guitar-work and some off-key off-mike vocals from Lennon, which suggests he isn't taking it all that seriously! Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
[31] D) Gene Vincent's 'Be Bop A Lula', released in 1956, has always been quoted as a favourite by both John and Paul and both will record versions of it in their solo careers (Lennon for 'Rock and Roll' in 1975 and McCartney for 'Unplugged' in 1992). Oddly, though, this is the only recording we have of the Beatles doing it (the band don't even return to it during the making of 'Let It Be', unlike every other oldie they used to play!) Paul sings this version and adds a delightful walking bass part not on the original, while John with his notoriously poor sense of rhythm stuffs up the rhythm guitar part several times. George's solo is great once again, though, proving that the youngest Beatle at least was having a ball in this period. Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
[32] E) 'Red Sails In The Sunset', a 'comedy' song dating back to the mid-1930s and recorded by everyone from Bing Crosby to Nat King Cole, was something of a 'Liverpudlian standard'. Every band used to do it in their act somewhere although strangely none of them did it on record (listen to any live tape of The Searchers though from almost any era and it will be in there somewhere!) The Beatles do what they do best in this era, stripping away the novelty and slight arch-ness of most earlier versions for all-out rock and roll dynamite, turning the song into a sped-up 12 bar blues full of thrashing guitars. Interestingly Paul introduces this one as 'the one you've come for' - does he mean this truthfully or sarcastically? (It's hard to tell!) Once again it would have made a fine album track in the days when the band did covers or even a BBC session. Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
[33] F) 'Shimmy Like Kate' aka 'Shimmy Shake' aka 'I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate' seems to get a new name with every re-issue of the 'Star Club Tapes'. That's possibly because the Beatles naughtily start off singing this one as 'Shitty Shitty', perhaps knowing that only their English-speaking friends will get the joke. Another hard and funky rock and roll song, this one has Paul on lead with John joining in and was originally a hit for Louis Armstrong, although The Beatles probably knew it from what's thought to be the 'first' rock and roll version, released by The Olympics in 1960. It's probably the weakest of the 'unknown' songs from this set that was never returned to but still worth returning to (well, more than 'Mr Moonlight' anyway!) Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
[34] G) 'I Remember You' is a reminder that in 1962 rock and roll was still new enough to be exhaustible and that the hours in Germany were long, even for a band with a top 20 UK single under their belt. Johnny Mercer's 1941 song doesn't quite feature the yodelling of Frank Ifield's best known version, but it's still an oddball choice for a band that's just spent the past hour rocking Germany's socks off. Strangely Paul sounds very at home on this song, more so than some of the rockers in the set, and is already a great showman. Writing partner John, meanwhile, plays some largely off-key harmonica through the song instead of taking the mickey as you'd expect him to. Perhaps it's a relief this one never made it to album... Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
[35] H) 'Where Have You Been?' (sometimes given the subtitle 'All My Life') is a Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil standard that's perhaps best known from the tasteful folky version on the third band by The Beatles' main scouse rivals, 'It's The Searchers'. The Beatles' version loses all subtlety and gets turned into another rocking song with a snarling Lennon vocal (it's similar to both vocal range and meaning on the middle eight of Arthur Alexander's 'Anna', a song we know had special significance to Lennon and was his 'dream girl' he finally met in Yoko: 'All of my life I've been searching for a girl...') and some neat harmonies from Paul and George behind. Presumably the band never returned to this one once The Searchers had done it (an unwritten rule of Merseybeat was that you never recorded a song someone else did, although The Searchers followed The Beatles in recording 'Twist and Shout' on their first album from August 1963 and they in turn followed the Searchers version of 'Money' from the same LP) Sadly the song gets cut short before we hear the full power of it (it only ever appeared on American, not European copies of the original 1970s release anyway), but the 110 seconds we do have are pretty spiffing and suits The Beatles just fine. Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
[36] I) 'Sheila' is a Buddy Holly-ish song featuring George again, although it was actually written by sadly forgotten English 1950s star Tommy Roe. It's not a patch on his biggest hit 'Dizzy' but it's a sweet enough song about a typical teenage love story. George sings lead vocal on this but he's outshone by Ringo doing a very 'Crickets' style drum pattern behind him. This pair are the only two on the recording actually: were John and Paul at the bar when this was being recorded?! Once again, this song was only included on American editions of the album initially, not European ones. Find it on: 'The StarClub Tapes December 1962' (Re-issued 1977, 1992 and many times before, in-between and since!)
Non-Album Recordings Part #6: 1963 (EMI)

A) The Beatles were unusual in refusing to add most of their singles (and B-sides!) to their albums. This was a standard rule followed by pretty much everyone, including most of The Beatles' contemporaries with only those also on EMI (like The Hollies and, much later, Pink Floyd) or those with more generous record contracts (like The Who, on one album a year not two on Track Records) following suit. This next section - and a lot of the ones after - feature the Beatles' million-selling #1 singles at their core, along with yet more outtakes and alternative versions unveiled as part of the six-CD Anthology project
Following on from 'Love Me Do' and 'Please Please Me' (added to the band's first album to push sales for a band without a proven track record), here's single number three: [63] 'From Me To You'. A slight backwards-step from the sheer urgency of 'Please Please Me', this song is perhaps a little too-consciously written as 'the next single', a thankyou to fans from a group increasingly shocked at how many screams there were in concerts and how many fan letters poured in each day. One of the often-neglected features in the tale of how The Beatles broke big is how well they treated their fans, shaking hands and posing for pictures at all sorts of awkward and unlikely moments; 'From Me To You' is a logical extension of this sincerity and in addition continued the recent singles 'theme' of having the song sound like it was coming direct from 'them'. Written on tour (reportedly in a coach heading to Shrewsbury on the 1963 tour where The Beatles replace Helen Shapiro as main headliner partway through) and reputedly 'borrowed' from the headline on the letters page of the New Musical Express (who were by now writing their first columns about the band), 'From Me To You' means well, but never quite shakes off its perfunctory status, being recorded just a week after being written. However where this song succeeds is in taking the 'best' natural instincts of both composers forced to work at short notice: the verses are clearly Lennons (big wide open spaces), the 'alternate verse' ('I've got arms that long to hold you...') clearly McCartney's (tension derived from close harmony and covering a range of far more notes). It also managed the twin roles of being catchy and suitable for 'adults' without being too 'twee' for teenagers (when asked when he knew The Beatles had made it Paul once quoted hearing his local milkman whistling this song the week after it came out). For a song written to short notice, 'From Me To You' is still pretty good - but it remains a 'hack song' in contrast to the pair of singles that have gone just before it and most of the ones to come. The irony, too, is that at just 1:57 (30 second shorter than 'Love Me Do') this song and B-side 'Thankyou Girl' (just 2:04) represent the least value per-pence of any Beatles release in their lifetime! Thankyou indeed! Released as a single on April 11th 1963. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
B) I actually like B-side [64]  'Thankyou Girl' more, being basically the same song just with a slight leer of menace and a charging instrumental section that's truly thrilling. John and Paul wrote it, together once more, with the same intentions as 'From Me To You' but for whatever reason felt the song didn't quite have the impact they needed for a third single. To be honest the early takes of the song (now available on 'Beatle Bootleg Recordings 1963' ) aren't quite there yet - but the finished version is, by this period in the band's career, about the tightest little two minutes they'd played yet. Everything about this song is cleverly placed so that the band's bowl of treats aren't handed out too fast: Lennon's powerful harmonica (actually overdubbed later, alone, a week later in the middle of the Helen Shapiro tour - suggesting someone, whether John or George Martin or someone else, really wanted that harmonica part on the track), the quick-time bass-and-drum surge, that sweeping wide-open melody on 'all I got to do' (a favourite of Lennon's who re-used it in 'All I Gotta Do' later the same year) and a final surge of aggression at the end. This is some thankyou present: basically everything that has made The Beatles so popular over the past year (cute lyrics, aggressive electric stylings, harmonies) is here, slightly re-jiggled to excellent effect but never again caught so fully inside just one song. Released as the B-side of 'From Me To You'  on April 11th 1963. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
C) Meanwhile, tacked onto the end of the session that produced both the above A and B side, The Beatles have time for one more song. They chose [65] 'One After 909', a simple boogie song that's kind of the low budget English version of all those 'train' songs that always seemed to be releases in the States. The band have had this one around for a long time (sadly it's only out on bootleg so far but there's a great recording of this one at the Cavern Club in 1960, all power and dynamism) so it seems rather odd that it wasn't brought out a month earlier for the 'Please Please Me' album. Did the band always think of this as a B-side? In the end the song simply gave them too many problems to complete within the allotted time and, following a few aborted takes, they gave up on it. A shame, because, with a fat driving guitar sound (especially George's strummed intro, added for the last of five takes in this session and presumably invented on the spot) and some typically sharp Lennon lyrics about a simple mistake getting out of hand (He's at the wrong platform! What a clot!) are genuinely funny. The Beatles were clearly fond of the song too, despite the problems it was giving them this day (one of the few Beatles arguments pre-1968 captured on tape starts when John comes in too early during the instrumental, while  Paul says his bass part is too fast for him to play - given what white-washing went on in the rest of 'Anthology' it's amazing this snippet was left in!) and returned to the song during the 'Let It Be' sessions. Intended as merely another 'warm-up' song the band all knew how to play in a hurry, the band quickly latched onto its potential and unlike all the other 1950s standards and revived early originals this one made the album. By then, though, The Beatles aren't quite the same band and this isn't quite the right song for 1969, it's innocence by then very much a thing of the past. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
D) [66] 'She Loves You' is 'the big one' - the moment when everyone knew The Beatles' name in Britain, rather than just hip youngsters. The song is a variation on the tried and tested policy that had been working on The Beatles' singles so far, but instead of being 'from me to you' uses the third person (something Lennon sniffily conceded was Paul's idea 'because I always write about myself'). However 'She Loves You' once again works because it features the best of the two composers: the 'yeah yeah yeah' hook is pure Lennon (nicked, he said later, from Elvis' 'umm huh, oh yeah' on 'All Shook Up'), a sudden burst of unparalleled joy and the closing ringing chord (usually unforgivably corny except in The Beatles' hands where it somehow works) probably his too; the close harmonies however are most likely McCartney's work. In truth the song doesn't say much beyond trying to patch up a relationship between two friends (John and Cynthia? Stuart and Astrid? or more likely an imaginary conversation that never took place; engineer Norman Smith, seeing the lyrics written out on a music stand without hearing the music to go with them, thought to himself 'what a shame - another promising career wrong' but changed his mind as soon as the tape started rolling), but the power with which The Beatles perform on this song hints at something more, as if everything is possible and the all the world is love: every affirming 'yeah', every Ringo 'drum-flick', every full-on chorus: compared to this full-on onslaught even 'Please Please Me' and 'From Me To You' sound a bit tame, while anything released earlier than about 1962 sounds old and tired. One thing that many people miss when discussing The Beatles' works is how energetic, exciting and vibrant everything was, with 'She Loves You' and 'I want To Hold Your Hand' the prime examples of this; not least because 'She Loves You' is almost unique in the Beatles canon for starting with the 'hook' and only adding the song in later; somehow the song itself is secondary to those 'yeah yeah yeah's. The result is one of the pair's simplest yet most infectious works, one that became the best selling single of 1963 ('I Want To Hold Your Hand' coming a bit too late to match the same sales within a single year), a UK number #1 for six weeks and in the top three for over four consecutive months; hard not to love and f - or the few people who still didn't  - impossible to ignore. Released as a single Released as a single on August 23rd 1963. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
E) B-side [67]  'I'll Get You', meanwhile, points at something darker lurking just below the surface. Always one to reflect the world 'outside their window', 'I'll Get You' is a nod to the gloomier r and b sounds coming out of London and Beatle pals The Rolling Stones, full of barely contained menace and with the 'yeahs' that made the A side so thrilling now sounding chilling. Lyrically 'I'll Get You' is an odd song - it's split halfway between being a traditional love song ('I think about you night and day') and possession and jealousy ('So I'm telling you my friend - I'll get you in the end!') as if the girls' feelings are of no concern to the narrator. Like 'Run For Your Life', this is Lennon living out his darker side in song in the years before Yoko turned him into a 'feminist' (his long journey can be traced from this song, to 'Girl' where 'she' gets the better of him, through to the chest-beating 'Woman Is The Nigger Of The World' and the contented respect of 'Woman'), with a few melodic and harmonically pretty passages probably added by McCartney. The result is a terrific song that once again proved how many goodies there was in The Beatles' arsenal compared to their rivals, but the writing is let down by a rather hurried recording where the band even leave in a rare mistakes (John and Paul sing different lines in the bridge - 'When I'm gonna make you mine' and 'when I'm gonna change your mind' respectively - and because the session tapes for this song have, unusually and regrettably, gone missing down the years we don't know who was right). Released as the B-side of 'She Loves You' on August 23rd 1963. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
F) For anyone reading this book in America, though, the story of The Beatles really starts here with  [68] 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. Released less than a week after the death of JFK, it conveys similar passion, energy and excitement to the past Beatles singles, but with a slightly tougher electric guitar riff this time around. This makes up for a remarkably chaste lyric, even by 1963 standards, which recycles  the words from 'Please Please Me' and sounds like a very Victorian courtship ('Please say to me you'll let me be your man'). The old joke is that 'The Beatles want to hold your hand - The Rolling Stones want to burn your town' - but that's exactly what's going on, unknowingly to many ears, just below the surface.  Like 'I Saw Her Standing There', this song is full of nods and winks to an audience who get what the Beatles 'really' mean here: 'Yeah you've got that something, I think you understand' is the equivalent of 'you know what I mean', an aside about just how much of a dangerous chemistry there is going on which can only lead down a dangerous road. The music, too, is full of such lust that the song threatens to fly off the blocks whenever it can, settling down only for a gentle middle eight which froths to an absolute fever pitch when it connects back to the verse again (would anyone listening to the German version who didn't understand it or know the original guess at just how pure the words really are?) Interestingly, this song is another Beatles 'first' - it was written not in John's or Paul's parents' houses or on tour busses but in the basement of the flat of the Asher family (Paul had just started courting actress Jane). While less affected by their writing environment than many bands (Ray Davies' songs, for instance, change with every house he lives in), the fact that Paul has Richard Asher's vast library of books to hand (Including in his bedroom) is a key and often neglected fact in the Beatles' story and many of the best songs of the 1960s will be written in this house, many of them as 'grown up' as the surroundings ('Yesterday' included). The fact that Paul is now living with his girlfriend, but under the watchful eyes of his maybe-one-day-in-laws may have had a bigger impact on this song for now, however (the fact that the love interest was, briefly, kept quiet from the press might be another reason why the relationship in this song is reduced to mere 'hand-holding', for now). The perfect recipe for the post-JFK blues, 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' in truth isn't that much of an advance on 'She Loves You' but the timing of the Ed Sullivan shows in America in February 1964 and the re-release of this song was the perfect tonic for a generation who thought their only chance to get 'heard' on a world-wide scale was gone forever. Music to blow the cobwebs away - and still not so violently new that mums and dads couldn't take to it (not yet anyway).  Released as a single on November 29th 1963. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
G) Many fans waxed lyrical about B-side [69]  'This Boy' too but - a charming instrumental version used in the second-best segment of the 'A Hard Day's Night' film (where it was re-titled 'Ringo's Theme') aside, I've always been puzzled why this simplistic and rather retrograde song was treated with such reverence. By November 1963 John and Paul had already composed songs with dazzling rule-breaking, especially in the harmonies that are quite unlike anything else put on tape (and along with powerful drumming the backbone of the distinctive  'Merseybeat' sound). 'This Boy', however, sticks rigidly to all the rules. George strums away on a repetitive guitar part that sleep-walks its way through the kind of tired chord progression heard on every 1950s pop ballad (the Elvis film soundtracks are full of them), the harmonies are open bare thirds, like barbershop quartets have been singing for centuries. The lyrics, too, have none of the wit and wordplay Lennon (the principle songwriter) adored so much: sure, some of the earlier songs have been on the simple side but nothing has ever been quite as banal as 'This boy wouldn't mind the pain, would always feel the same, if this boy gets you back again'. *Yawn* Till now The Beatles' formula has worked for its excitement levels as much as anything else, but this song is simply box-ticking and if I was the girl I'd have moved onto someone more interesting (like The Dave Clark Five). Only on a splendid keening middle eight does the 'true' Lennon rise and bubble to the surface as he tries to prove his worth: 'This boy would be happy just to love you - that boy would only see you cry!') We don't believe it for a second (anyone with that much passion would bring swings of emotion to a relationship) but the way the middle eight pushes forward through the restrictions of the verse to reach for the air in one desperate cry of, well, 'cry-y-y-y' is an electrifying moment - all the more so given the rest of the song. Perhaps Lennon should have based his song around that section instead? The Americans didn't get this song as the B-side - they got 'I Saw Her Standing There' instead, an almost perfect partner given how similar both songs are and a surprisingly clever move from Capitol (who didn't make all that many, as we'll be seeing later in this book...)  Released as the B-side of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' in the UK on November 29th 1963. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
H) Less seriously, a snippet of The Beatles' appearance on the Morecambe and Wise Show ended up on Anthology One. More suited to The Beatles' Northern humour than most, both halves of the arrangement benefitted well from the appearance (far from being the household name they'll become in the 1970s, in 1964 Morecambe and Wise' show was still named 'Two Of A Kind', came in black-and-white and was largely slapstick, without the wit of later writer Eddie Braben's good humoured insults or big-named guest stars: while The Beatles arguably were big-name guest stars in December 1963, a month after the Royal Variety, they probably weren't when Brian Epstein booked this gig for the band). The 'joke' (which works well in the Anthology video but not so much on the audio CD) is that Eric is dressed up as a Beatle, complete with wig and catch-phrases, while The Beatles and Ernie are dressed up as immaculately suited music hall types. The song they sing, [70] 'Moonlight Bay' (best known thanks to a Doris Day cover version and the title track to one of her less clichéd films), fits nicely into the band's Hamburg routine of spicing up old songs - although the joke here is that it's Eric singing 'twist and shout' 'ooh!' and - despite it being a Gerry and the Pacemakers song - 'I like it!' as well as changing the original words 'as we sang love's old sweet song' to the pair's catchphrase 'with your short fat hairy legs!' The Beatles finish with a good-natured spoof of their head-shaking 'oohs', cementing their public persona as good natured sports in the eyes of many. The band also performed fairly routine versions of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' and 'This Boy', both collected on the 'Anthology' set alongside more jokes about the Beatles being 'the Kay Sister turned Grey' and Ringo being re-christened Bonzo (the very last shot of the programme and sadly cut from the Anthology Video is Ringo, alone, on his drum stool trying to get down!) Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)

BBC Sessions #2: 1963

After dipping their toe into the water in 1962, 1963 was the year when The Beatles rules the airwaves - in the UK at least. The success of 'Please Please Me' seemed to open the floodgates and - anxious to keep The Beatles in the public eye at home while they were off touring other countries throughout the year - Brian Epstein said 'yes' to everything. There are lots of excellent detailed books about the band's radio sessions (most of them by Beatle scholar Kevin Howlett) and some better-than-average sleevenotes for the two volumes of BBC Sessions issued by Apple in 1993 and 2013 (the 30th and 50th anniversary years, respectively, although oddly no one connected to the band thought to push this in the publicity for either set). In total the band made 43 appearances on radio that year, including their own weekly 15-part series 'Pop Go The Beatles!' that ran - with a brief break in-between shows 4 and 5 - from May 24th to September 24th plus three 'bank holiday' specials - which isn't bad going for a band who also released two albums, four singles and did one heck of a lot of touring and TV that year! With so much air-time to fill up, The Beatles fell back on their 'Hamburg' training and turned to anything and everything: hit singles, album tracks, old favourites from their childhood record collections, new singles the band had fallen in love with recently and the genres chosen showcase once and for all just what a varied sound The Beatles' was: tackling rock, pop, crooner standards, country and western, folk, Motown, girl bands and lots of other things besides.
In truth, Apple could release a ten CD box set of The Beatles' BBC recordings if they so wished (there would be a lot of repetition mind, but there are enough Beatles fans not to care, perhaps with a single disc out for the general public) - and we'll have a moan at them for not doing just that in our 2009 review of 'At The BBC Volume One' (as we now have to call it since the second one came out!) at the end of this book. However Apple did do the next best thing: instead of issuing all 14 versions of 'She Loves You', they released (eventually) all of the band's 1963 and 1964 broadcasts that featured exclusive songs not otherwise available on single or album (oddly, the 1962 BBC recordings discussed earlier  have never been released by Apple - would they cost too much to clean?) alongside the pick of the band's best known songs and a bit (but sadly not enough) witty Beatle banter with a range of bemused radio hosts (Usually Brian Matthews, Alan 'Fluff' Freeman or Rodney Burke - we won't mention Rolf Harris if you won't). Some of these are priceless: George's mum listens in to Pop Go The Beatles while she's digging the back garden (!) and Liverpool Institute Class 5E are studying 'In His Own Write' in the very rooms where Lennon was told he would 'never amount to anything' (much to his hilarity!) The music is, of course, superb - a few dud choices aside the remarkable thing is how many great cover songs (and one Lennon-McCartney original) never did come out on record - more than any other releases the two 'At The BBC' sets are an embarrassment of riches, often recorded in one take and rarely in more than two. That goes double for the four editions of 'Pop Go The Beatles' broadcast in July and August 1963 that account for 14 of the 34 'exclusive' songs recorded in 1963-64 alone and which bridge the gap between the 'rough' 'Please Please Me' and 'polished' 'With The Beatles' rather well! In many ways it's having a bonus 'second album' between the two in fact - a double one even if you filter out all the songs available elsewhere. What's curious is that the band barely replicate any of their stage set circa 1962 (as seen on the 'Star Club' tapes) - were the band simply performing odd choices that week or did they really learn this much material in a hurry? Thankfully all of the 'Pop Go The Beatles' series has been kept in the BBC archives, along with the three specials, all the appearances on 'Saturday Club' and the 1960s equivalent of Radio 4's 'Inheritance Tracks' 'Side By Side' and a smattering of everything else - all in all The Beatles' radio collection is in rude health, unlike their TV history (another story altogether which we'll be picking up many pages later in this book...)
However even Alan's Album Archives has to draw the line somewhere so we'll stick with the 'exclusive' songs for now, not the hits or chat (although we'll come back to these under our 'At The BBC' reviews in the pages for '1993' and '2013'...) Oh and another gripe I've long had with these sets is how muddled the chronology is - we'll be putting that right in this review by listing everything back in its correct order so you can better hear the band's progression and increasingly surprising choice in cover songs (don't blame me if you wear the 'skip' button out on your CD, blame Apple...) All songs are available on 'At The BBC - Volume One' (Released 1993, Re-issued 2013) unless otherwise stated.
A)[71]  'Keep Your Hands Off My Baby' (Broadcast on 'Saturday Club' on January 26th) is a cover of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's second big hit - the first was 'The Loco-Motion' if you were wondering (and anyone who assumed that Kylie did it first in the 1980s needs to add to their 1960s collection - fast!) The Beatles must have learnt this one fast - it was only just beginning to dip from its UK peak of #12 when The Beatles recorded this version in their third ever BBC radio session - and their first of many for Brian Matthews' teenage programme 'Saturday Club'. Sadly the quality of this one is the worst of all the recordings released on this set but even across the murk of 50-odd years an impassioned Lennon lead vocal shines through.
B)[72]  'Beautiful Dreamer' (Broadcast on 'Saturday Club' on January 26th; Available on 'At The BBC Volume Two' 2013) was curiously left off 'Volume One' (the sound quality is no worse than the above song, which did make the first BBC album). Another example of a 'standard' re-dressed to sound like a Beatles song, this song is best known for being a crooning ballad rather than the revved-up rocker it is here. The arrangement isn't one of the band's best but Paul puts in a gritty vocal and there's a fun key-change upwards near the end of the song, thrown in for no other reason except that they can. You can imagine this song would have gone down well at the Cavern.
C) [73] 'Talkin' 'Bout You' (Broadcast on 'Saturday Club' on March 16th; available on 'At The BBC Volume Two' 2013) is another song that really should have made the first volume - this Chuck Berry classic was born for a voice like Lennon's and, much as I love the better known Stones version (from third album 'Out Of Our Heads') John is in mesmerising form here (then again The Hollies' classy version from their debut album 'Stay With...' beats the pair of them). The Beatles are clearly under-rehearsed (and, most likely, tired - they'd only just left the Helen Shapiro tour to record this; the sleevenotes also mention the fact that John was recovering from a heavy cold) but that just adds to the excitement as Paul's bass goes for a long walk and John and George's guitars clash to great effect. Sadly it's all rather of mike, but there's another scintillating Beatles version of this song on the 'Star Club' tapes.  
D)[74]  'Young Blood' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' # 2 on June 11th) Clearly learning nothing from his experience with Leiber and Stoller's 'novelty' songs recorded by The Coasters on the Decca audition tape, this is George recording another one, as unfunny as 'Three Cool Cats' and featuring the same charmless 'comic' interruptions from John and Paul in a variety of funny voices. The lyrics are also, frankly, disturbing: the narrator has fallen in love with a girl whose clearly under-age and stalks her before getting warned off by her dad (as played by John) - hardly radio friendly fare!  The Beatles sound under-rehearsed here and the cracks really begin to show by the last verse when George falters on the line 'I couldn't sleep a wink for tryin'...I saw the rising of the sun'. Not one of the Beatles' better BBC ideas. Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys recording a similarly misguided version for the title of his second solo album in 1981.
E)[75]  'I Got To Find My Baby' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #2 on June 11th) is much more like it: John simply soars on this Chuck Berry song from 1956 (unusually for Chuck he 'borrowed' the original phrase from a song a generation older - 'Gotta Find My baby' by 'Dr Clayton'). The song deserves to be better known, with its good-time swing and lyrics about searching for a girl the whole world over that make 'Searchin' look positively yesteryear. The reason most of you probably don't know this song (except for the Beatles' version) is that this was the single which had just come out when Chuck was arrested for 'transporting a minor against state lines for illicit gain' - the act that effectively ended Berry's career until The Beatles and The Stones made him popular again. Lennon has great fun on the harmonica break too, a part that's much harder than any he's played till now (presumably George plays all the guitar work on this track to compensate - there were no overdubs for this early session!)
F)[76]  'Sure To Fall (In Love With You)' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #3 on June 18th and - on Volume Two - on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #15 on September 24th ) The Beatles always seemed rather fond of this dreary song, which went into their act early, stayed late and was still being re-recorded by Ringo as late as 1981 (for his album 'Stop and Smell The Roses'  in a version produced for him by Paul). McCartney sings lead on this lesser Carl Perkins song in 1963, however, although he's totally upstaged by Lennon who sings a very snarling, sarcastic harmony vocal behind. Slowed down to a crawl, with only George's guitar arpeggios to keep things moving, this song is a drag big time and seems a lot longer than just two minutes. The release of two separate versions from opposite ends of the 'Pop Go The Beatles' series is valuable for showing how much The Beatles have learnt though: 'Volume One' (the earlier of the two) features lots of echo and guitar); Volume Two is much sparser and has slightly more 'kick' to it (although the best Beatles versions is the rather manic sped-up version they recorded for the Decca audition in 1962 where Pete Best throws in every drum fill he knows in order to make the song sound exciting!) Quite why the band should record this awful song four times in total in 1963, though and 'Soldier Of Love' just once is one of life's little mysteries.
G) [77] 'Lend Me Your Comb' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' # 5 on July 16th; Available on 'At The BBC Volume Two' and - for some reason I never quite understood - 'Anthology One') is a much better Carl Perkins song, one with real verve and penache. So much so that your average Cavern-goer in 1962 was probably longing for the band to put this on record - tales of this song (alongside 'Twist and Shout' 'Money' and 'Some Other Guy') are legendary among those who were there. It's a shame, then, that the Beatles performance here of a song so key to their legacy is rather thrown away - John and Paul are both on the verge of messing up their words (although despite a few pauses along the way, they get away with it) and the backing is best described as 'tired'. A shame because this is a really fun song that deserves better: the narrator is straightening himself up after a fun night out to go back home to his respectable parents, unaware of what he's been up to. The hints of something slightly naughty hidden in this song and the references to 'hair' are all very Beatles; along with the unexpected slide from jazzy pop into full-on hard rock (which not many bands except the fab four could have pulled off at the time) you can see just why audiences would have gone nuts for this at the Cavern Club or Hamburg. A rather drunken sounding version on the 'Star Club' tapes can't really compete.
H) [78] 'I'll Be On My Way' (Broadcast on 'Side By Side' on June 20th) is a real rarity: the only example of The Beatles performing a song they 'gave away' on a BBC show. This, the best of two songs handed to Brian Epstein singing Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, would have made a lovely addition to either of the first two Beatles albums and even points the way forward to the close-harmony, slight country-rock style they'll pursue on first the song 'I'll Be Back' (which even shares the same first two words) and then most of 'Beatles For Sale' across 1964. A little too slight by Lennon-McCartney standards, perhaps, with a rhyme for 'moonlight' and 'Junelight' that the two authors despised, this is still a lovely song from a time when The Beatles were still just about innocent and new enough to get away with it. Very Buddy Holly-ish, in fact (as Beatles brain bar none Ian McDonald put it in his superb book 'Revolution In The Head', imagine the band singing 'I'll be on my way-a-hey-hey' at the end of each line and this is a carbon copy Holly song, perhaps taken a bit slow). Still, whatever the debt it owes to the songs before it and however clumsy the odd word 'I'll Be On My Way' is successful at capturing an atmospheric of heartbreak, wistful longing and a long journey back home, with dreams shattered. The Beatles will build on the sound they create here for some of their better known songs, with the 'way' the author is heading to directly on the line past 'I'm A Loser' through to 'Help!' and 'Ticket To Ride'.
I) [79] 'Some Other Guy' (Broadcast on 'Easy Beat' on June 23rd) is a really key song in Beatles folklore and another standard they were always being asked to play in their early days. When asked once which song he'd written Lennon was unequivocal in choosing this song, which was still important enough to the band's set list to be the song they chose to play when filmed at the Cavern Club in August 1962 for the programme 'People and Places'. In truth, the band clearly haven't played this Richie Barrett song for a while by this stage and this version is all over the shop, the slowly burning anger of the rather creepy original lit and melting on this version. The 1962 version (when the original was only a few months old) is better, less manic and more controlled with a drum sound impressive considering the fact that Ringo has only been in the band less than a week (it helped that Rory Storm and the Hurricanes used to do this one too). However even at half-mast you can hear how great this song must have sounded, with a thick bass drum part echoing off the back of a tiny concert hall and a song that doesn't so much progress as evolve, tightening the noose with each verse thanks to an acceleration of pitch, and tempo. Incidentally, catch those risque lyrics which fly past so quick you barely notice: 'Some other guy now is a sippin' up my honey like a yellow dog...' No wonder the original wasn't a hit (even in Merseyside, where seemingly every band played it including The Searchers, who are oddly weak-kneed on theirs), it probably got banned!
J)[80]  'That's Alright (Mama)' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #5 on July 16th) Arthur 'Big Boy' Cradup's song for Elvis is one of the few truly indispensible rock and roll records before The Beatles and their generation came along. With plenty of space for huffing, preening and pouting this song is the essence of what Elvis 'had', even though the song itself says nothing except that the narrator might leave sometime, maybe (baby). Clearly struck by the fact that he's covering a classic, Paul's vocal is rather too 'polite' for the song and the rest of the band sound oddly leaden (they were working hard in July 1963 even by their standards). Part of the Quarrymen's setlist in the earliest days (when, presumably, it was sung by sole vocalist Lennon in the days before Paul joined), McCartney was still fond enough of the song to record a similarly lead-weight version for his 1987 covers album 'Choba C C P' (In case you were wondering about the weird name, Paul released it in Russia first, after the iron curtain fell and in return for Russian fans having to wait so many years for new Beatle releases - a nice gesture that did much for the group's growing fan-base in that country, kick-started by another McCartney song  offering the hand of friendship, 'Back In The USSR')
K) [81] 'Carol' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #5 on July 16th) is another Chuck Berry song from 1958 best known from The Rolling Stones' covers (appearing on both their eponymous first album and 1970's live 'Get Yer Ya Yas Out!') The Beatles version at least draws with the version made by their London friends, Lennon for once singing the song straighter and without the leer of Mick Jagger. The Beatles play superbly on this song, reducing Berry's already fairly simple arrangement to a simple unrelenting drum pattern and some fantastic guitar squeals from George. Carol herself, though, sounds like a cow - she's left the narrator simply because he can't dance as well as her (thus making this just about the only Chuck Berry song in which a girl gets the better of a boy); stuff dancing when the narrator can sing like this!
L) [82] 'Soldier Of Love' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #5 on July 16th) is my absolute favourite of the 'exclusive' BBC songs though: how dare the band not put this sterling Arthur Alexander song on album?! Better even than the same author's 'Anna (Go To Him)', this is another song John Lennon was born to sing full of army metaphors and a gritty lyric that cuts a bit deeper than all the other period songs. Sounding like an army major barking out orders, Lennon's vocal still manages to be warm and loving, pleading for his girl to go 'peacefully' (is this where his future songs about peace came from?) because 'your weapons are hurting me bad...'cause my love, baby, is the truest you've ever had'. Paul and George meanwhile add a delightful harmony part and the latter adds some more great guitar work. Only Ringo's rather repetitive drumming presents this from being the best group performance on either BBC record. Incidentally, Marshall Creenshaw (a rather convincing Lennon in the stage tour of 'Beatlemania') released a cover of this song as a tribute to Lennon after he died - with its plea for peace and the closeness Lennon 'felt' to Arthur Alexander it proved to be rather a good choice.
M) [83] 'Clarabella' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #5 on July 16th) is one of Paul's better cover songs from the BBC years too, a really obscure song by Frank Pingatore and first recorded by the Jodimars (basically what The Comets became after leaving Bill Haley). The track sounds like a Little Richard song, full of shrieks and howls, and so is nicely suited to Paul's harder-edged voice he rbings out of his locker at times like these, with a fine harmonica accompaniment from Lennon on harmonica, a guitar solo from George best described as 'demented' and a drum part that at least Ringo can get his teeth (or at least his left foot) into. The bit of nonsense before the song had Lennon promising that his partner would be 'whistling' Clarabella' - sadly that never actually happens (a song built around just a couple of notes like this one would be a pain to whistle)!
N) [84] 'Sweet Little Sixteen' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #6 on July 23rd) is, by contrast, the one really obvious choice the Beatles do here. Everyone did this Chuck Berry song (well, The Stones and The Hollies did, neither to much effect it has to be said) but at least The Beatles did it better than most. Chuck's slightly start-soppy original from 1958 has by now been turned into a relentless rally cry for disenchanted youth, going one better than the 'year above age of consent' in 'I Saw Her Standing There' for a song that can't wait until the narrator's girlfriend is 'legal'. As ever with Chuck, the greatness is in the detail: what teenage girl of any age hasn't collected 'half a million framed autographs' or something similar of whatever the latest trend is: be it Beatles, Monkees, Bay City Rollers, Take That or One Direction and dressing up as an adult at the weekends before going back to their school uniform. The grit in Lennon's voice does this one good, while the fast paced tempo means it almost trumps even the sophisticated original. This version is subtler than the version that appeared on the Star Club' version, but if anything Lennon is in even better voice in 1962! Lennon returned to the song for his 'Rock 'n' Roll' album in 1975, although that rather wimpy polished version with session musicians lacks the power of this version.
O) [85] 'Lonesome Tears In My Eyes' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #6 on July 23rd) is another really obscure number - so much so that Lennon is moved to 'introduce' it to an audience who he knows might be interested enough to go out and buy it, although typically Lennon he gets the facts wrong (this is by Johnny Burnette not his brother Dorsey) and adds in a bit of Lennon-ish gibberish too (this record came out in 1957, not '1822'!) The result is a sweet but not very sophisticated song that makes the most out of a jazzy riff and a Lennon-ish burst of alliteration ('Baby baby baby baby blues and sorrow, love you tomorrow, will suit you just fine...') Burnette's original is cute, but The Beatles' version is something more thanks to a howling Lennon vocal and a drum-bass-guitar attack. Even the fact that George badly messes up the slide guitar part (mainly because he's trying to play it on his usual Country Gretsch guitar, which doesn't work in quite the same way) doesn't matter.
P)[86]  'Nothin' Shakin' (But The Leaves On The Trees)' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #6 on July 23rd) is another rare number (it only made it to #64 in the UK charts - even 'Love Me Do' did better than that), one that sounds like it should be by Jerry Lee Lewis but is actually by Eddie Fontaine (no, me neither - though The Beatles almost certainly found about him when he appeared in influential rock and roll movie 'The Girl Can't Help It', out in 1962). George sounds more comfortable here amongst the country-western licks and turns in another eccentric guitar solo that works rather better this time around, even doubling up the phrases to sound like Carl Perkins. The rest of the band turn in a sprightly performance on a song that does its best to dispel the gloom of a nothing day in a nothing town away with good natured humour. Best thing about this song? The amount of rhymes for the word 'trees' ('knees' 'please' 'these' 'tease' 'squeeze'...the only one they don't use is 'cheese'!) A rather manic version of this song appeared on the 'Star Club' tapes too, but it's this 1963 one that's the keeper.
Q)[87] 'So How Come (No One Loves Me?)' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #6 on July 23rd) is another great song given a terrific Beatle makeover. One of the Bryant Brothers' better songs for The Everly Brothers, this sighing song is every bit as good as gems like 'Wake Up Little Susie' and 'Bye Bye Love'. This version of the song is most noticeable for the close harmony between Paul and George (you don't often get to hear them together without John - that's Paul on top and George on bottom by the way) and the slightly quicker tempo with which they take the song. Of course, by July 1963 the fed-up lyrics to this song (not that far removed from Lennon's later lyric for his 1970s solo song 'Isolation') were probably wishful thinking: everyone loved the Beatles, even the ugly duckling and little black sheep.
R) [88] 'Memphis, Tennessee' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #7 on July 30th and - on Volume Two broadcast on 'Saturday Club' on October 5th) Another Beatle favourite and again it's odd that this Chuck Berry song (released in 1959 and a favourite in the band's stage act virtually from that moment) didn't make it to album. One of the highlights of the band's Decca audition tape, the band clearly knew it well and dusted off five remarkably different versions of this song for various BBC shows. The version on 'Volume One' is the best of the five, taken slightly quicker than the others, with a little bit of rawness left in. Lennon excels on a song that has one of the great twists in rock and roll - only in the last verse is it revealed that rather than just another girlfriend 'Marie' is actually a divorced dad's little girl he's hardly seen. Berry's observant eye is never better than here and the guitar riff throughout the song is - along with 'Johnny B Goode' the backbone of rock and roll. The Beatles do the song justice though, proving themselves to be more than competent heirs.
S) [89] 'The Hippy Hippy Shake' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #7 on July 30th and - on 'Volume Two' 'Pop Go The Beatles' #13 on September 10th) is another Beatles favourite recorded many times over. This time it's a draw which of these fairly obscure Chan Romero covers - written when the author was all of seventeen -  is best: 'Volume One' features a great McCartney vocal and lots of polish but 'Volume Two' rocks hard and wild throughout (oddly the band seem to have got less tight in two months - perhaps they're just tired?) The last of these two dates came four months before Liverpool's fourth best band, The Swinging Blue Jeans, got to number two in the UK charts with their cover of this song, although I've always felt it was a little too 'polite' and rigid or a song that's basically a dance turned into a song (practically all the other Blue Jeans singles are amazing though - especially the early psychedelic ones nobody seems to know!; incidentally that record was held off the top spot by....The Beatles' 'I Feel Fine') A rather tentative version of this song also appeared on the 'Star Club' tapes.
T)[90]  'I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #8 on August 6th) Another highlight of these sessions, this cover of another early Elvis song shows exactly how much changed in the eight years between versions. Elvis' version smoulders with hurt pride and heartache, while The Beatles sound like they're having a swinging party! John and Paul sing the garbled lyrics together in harmony in double quick time but it's Ringo whose the star on this one, sounding at times like he's having a fit on the drums. Not the band's finest or deepest moment but a whole lot of fun!
U) [91] 'Crying Waiting Hoping' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #8 on August 6th) is another entry in the growing collection of Beatle covers of Buddy Holly songs, this time the B-side of the celebrated 1959 sequel 'Peggy Sue Got Married' (trust the Beatles to do the lesser-known B-side, something they'll be doing as late as 1965!) George sings lead again and the band take one of Buddy's sillier, less original songs at a disposal lick, not fast enough to rock and not slow enough to be a ballad. George adds some guitar trills that cheers the arrangement up a bit but, in truth, there were a hundreds of bands out there in British Isles who could do this sort of thing just as well if not better. Oh well, at least The Beatles' electric touches aren't as obtrusive as The Crickets' parts added to the original after Buddy's death (a man of steel behind those nerdy glasses, Holly would have had a fit at how his legacy was treated after he was gone...) and it's a big improvement on the rather nervy 'Decca' tape version.
V) [92] 'To Know Her Is To Love Her' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #8 on August 6th) is another of Lennon's favourite songs played by The Beatles in all periods (it's one of the better Decca songs and sounds pretty good in Hamburg too), so it's a surprise that Lennon waited as long as he did to introduce it. Phil Spector's finest hour (well, three minutes) as a writer, the song was a very personal composition: he took the phrase from a sentence written on his father's gravestone (originally sung by one of Spector's girl bands, The Teddy Bears, The Beatles changed the gender in their version). We don't know whether John knew this (Spector never spoke much to anyone about anything and the pair only became close some six years later during the 'post-production' /'ham fisted butchery' - delete to preference - on 'Let It Be') but if he did it would make sense of why he puts in such a towering emotional vocal: he may have been thinking of his own mother whose death when he was 15 haunted him for the rest of his life. Like many of Lennon's favourite songs, this is a track that 'builds', starting off gentle and growing in power every verse until finally hitting a moving middle eight ('Why can't she see?...') where those famous Lennon tonsils really take flight. However the best thing about this song from a Beatles  fan point of view is the emphasis it places on Paul and George's sympathetic Beach Boys-like harmony part, good practice for the songs like 'Yes It Is' and 'Because' to come. All in all one of the better BBC cover songs.
W) [93] 'The Honeymoon Song' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #8 on August 6th) is Paul McCartney trying to audition as an all-round entertainer. This rather posh song ('love is a ceiling, feelings are reeling...') - another middle-aged writer's idea of what teenagers speak (it was written by Mikis Theodorakis for the film 'The Honeymoon' in 1959, although it seems a lot older) - isn't exactly traditional Beatles fare. Paul picked it up when the band who play the song in the film - Marino Marini and his Quartet - played a gig in Liverpool, one of his first experiences of live music (it might be that, by show eight, the band were casting around for ideas and talking about their memories of their favourite songs in the BBC canteen or something...) McCartney treats the song with the same courtesy he treats all his 'mums and dads' songs ('A Taste Of Honey' 'Til' There Was You') but the rest of the band don't sound so sure - especially George's guitar part which parrots away after every line his colleague sings. Thankfully at a mere 100 seconds this track doesn't really outstay it's welcome but it sounds rather better in the hands of others - including Mary Hopkin, for whom Macca produced a version in 1969 for the 'Postcard' album.
X) [94] 'I Got A Woman' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #9 on August 13th and - on 'Volume Two' broadcast on 'Saturday Club' April 4th) is an odd choice to kick off the 'new music' part of 'At The BBC Volume One'. True, Lennon's vocals on either released version of this Ray Charles number are in fine fettle and The Beatles kick up a storm, but there's something rather dated about this song that prevents it from being a true Beatles classic (the very 1950s bass line, the rather pedestrian solo, the rather chauvinistic lyrics - 'A woman's place is hanging round the home', a line almost mumbled by John in embarrassment on the 'Volume One' take - all place this song firmly in the 1950s - it came out in 1955 and was covered by Elvis in 1956). The 'Volume One' version is slightly the better - the 'Volume Two' features a double-tracked Lennon vocal clearly done in a hurry that never quite takes off.
Y) [95] 'Glad All Over' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #10 on August 20th and - on 'Volume Two' broadcast on 'Saturday Club' on August 24th) This is George reviving his love of 'music hall' songs again, a rather silly little ditty from his beloved Carl Perkins (George once changed his Beatle stage name to 'Carl Harrison' to be more like his idol) - the 'A' side to 'Lend Me Your Comb' as it happens, the only single where The Beatles covered both sides as a band. Alas this song doesn't have 'Comb's good natured charm, with this goofy lover basking in the sunshine of love outstaying his welcome long before the end of the song. The two Beatle BBC versions of the songs couldn't be more different, despite being broadcast the very same week! 'Volume One' features a more 'normal' rock arrangement, while the 'Volume Two' version has almost a jazz shuffle beat. Neither are amongst the band's finest moments - I hate to say it but The Searchers beat The Beatles hands down on this one.
Z) [96] 'I Just Don't Understand' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #10 on August 20th) To 'Who' fans she'll always be the mother of 'Tommy' writhing in chocolate in the 1975 film, but to Beatles fans actress Ann-Margret will always be known as the originator of this rather gloomy song which - just - made it into the top 20 the first time round but wasn't exactly a record everyone knew. A rock and roll waltz (good practice for 'Baby's In Black' the following year!) this song sounds deeply threatening in Lennon's hands as he looks on aghast at how his 'baby' treats him. This is quite a brave statement to make for 1963, actually: this was very much written for a female perspective initially but Lennon doesn't change a word in his adaptation. Released in 1961, it's one of the more contemporary cover song choices here and may have been chosen because the original was produced by George Martin during a rare break from his comedy records!
AA) [97] 'A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #11 on August 27th) After adding so many comparatively obscure and complex songs into their setlist of late, this is The Beatles back on safer ground, keeping things simple on Arthur Alexander's most straightforward composition (the B-side to 'You Better Move On', a song covered by both The Rolling Stones and The Hollies). Added to the band's set during their Hamburg days, a very interesting letter regarding this song came up at auction a few years ago: 'Please Cyn' John asks his future wife, 'could you send me the words to A Shot of Rhythm and Blues? There aren't many!' He's right by the way - by Alexander's standards of drama and tension this song simply coasts by without an awful lot going on. In truth The Beatles rather bungle this song (and the compilers of these sets really bungle which of the three versions of this song to use - a version for 'Pop Go The Beatles' in June is much better); the definitive version of it is by label-mates Gerry and the Pacemakers who released it as the first track on their debut LP 'How Do You Like It?' two months after this recording.
BB) [98] 'Ooh! My Soul!' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #11 on August 27th) Paul McCartney's third most beloved Little Richard song (after 'Long Tall Sally' and 'Kansas City'), this frenetic but fun rocker sounds like it was rehearsed, played and mixed in the space of a few minutes. The Beatles sound like a tight little band here, all pulling together to great a terrific noise, with Ringo absolutely hammering his drum-kit. Actually this song is probably more likeable than either of the Little Richard covers that made it to official releases, with Paul having great fun letting his hair down near the end of a very busy period for the band.
CC) [99] 'Don't Ever Change' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #11 on August 27th) This song was made famous by Buddy Holly's backing band The Crickets, but was actually another written by prolific songwriters Goffin and King. A little too poppy and false and 'Tin Pan Alley' for The Beatles (and again bordering on sexist - the narrator tries to have his 'tomboy' girlfriend dress up in pretty clothes, though thankfully he changes his mind by the chorus and 'loves you just the way you are'), it's livened up by a sweet harmony part from Paul and George (once more with McCartney on top and Harrison on bottom). This absolutely is the most contemporary song The Beatles covered for the BBC: it had only come out in June 1962 so the band hadn't had that long to learn in August 1963!
DD) [100] 'Too Much Monkey Business' (Broadcast on 'Pop Go The Beatles' #13 on September 10th) Another true flagstone in the architecture of rock and roll, Chuck Berry's song about teenage frustration is suitable for every generation. Many bands have covered this song to mixed success (The Hollies, The Kinks - oddly it's about the only Chuck Berry A side The Rolling Stones never did), but for me The Beatles' version is best: Lennon attacks the quick-stepping lyric in a way that Chuck, in 1957, never could, turning a life of 'same thing, every day, get up, go to school', penniless despite long hours working as a petrol pump attendant and harassed by army recruiters into one long scream of indignation and anger. The rest of The Beatles are right with him, George flying one of his best guitar solos which carries on after the point where Chuck's original ends, turning the song into an extended blues workout that sounds more like The Yardbirds. Again, though, I'm surprised that this version of the song was used over a cracking 'Pop Go The Beatles' version from June or a funky no-frills 'Saturday Club' cover from as early as March - surely at least one of these should have been on 'Volume Two'?) Still, a great version of a terrific song and another of the BBC session highlights.
EE)[101]  'Lucille' (Broadcast on 'Saturday Club' on October 5th and - on Volume Two - 'Pop Go The Beatles' #14 on September 17th) Another song appearing surprisingly late in The Beatles' BBC sessions is Little Richard's most famous song (although Brian Matthew, introducing the 'Volume One' version, seems to know the Everly Brothers cover of it better - to be fair they were also guests on the programme that day!) Sadly the 'Saturday Club' version doesn't really cut it - the 'Volume Two' version is funkier, with more of the instrumental before the song cuts in and Macca delivering a more laidback wail than a piercing shriek (this September recording is arguably the closest the band ever got to replicating their slowed-down repetitive Hamburg arrangements for the BBC audience). Perhaps fittingly, this song - one of the first things The Beatles ever played together - will end up at the 'end' of our story too, jammed by John and Paul during their a get-together in 1974 on the last recording we have of them together. A further solo version by Paul appeared on his 1987 rock and roll covers album 'Choba B CCCP' (Russian for 'Back In The USSR' if you're wondering!)



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