Monday 2 June 2014

What We Want To See On The Beatles' 'Anthology IV' (News, Views and Music Top Thirty-Three)

Dear all, I've been busy the past month or so trying to bash the Alan's Album Archives empire into shape in the hope of publishing a series of 30 books on the AAA stars we've covered the most. Don't go out and rush to pre-order them just yet though - by my reckoning they'll take about another 3-4 years to complete! What I'm hoping to do is add all of the 'top ten' entries at the end of each book as an appendix, which has set me thinking what else I have left to write about for all of these bands. The good news is there aren't many angles we haven't already covered during the past five odd years and at times I'm amazed at how much ground we have covered (food-based puns?! AAA-related words that can be added to a calculator?!?) One very important element that we haven't really covered yet except in a couple of cases is the best music still unreleased by certain bands. Occasionally - as in this week's article - the music that's left unreleased is as important as the music that was and I can guarantee that around 75% of this material will get released one day on something, perhaps long after the groups included on this list- and probably me - have gone. So for last week, this week and the next few weeks we're going to bring you a series of' 'mock' outtakes albums, as close to 33-and-a-third tracks in length as we can make it.

In this week's case it's now been 18-and-a-half years since 'Anthology One' first appeared on our shelves and the world got to grips with a lot of what true Beatle-nuts had been enjoying on bootleg for decades. What with the release of 'Beatles at the Beeb Volume 2' last year and the '50 year copyright ruling' inspiring such unexpected gems as the 'Sessions'  outtakes of 'Please Please Me' from 1963, it seems possible that there will be a fourth Anthology sometime in the future? Not possible you say? Six CDs' worth of outtakes must be everything in the vaults you cry? Even those six CDs had an awful lot of awful filler you add? Well, believe it or not there are some real gems still out there that for one reason or another never made it to the three Anthology sets, compiled into a handy two-disc set for you:

 Disc One:

1) "Puttin' On The Style" (The Quarrymen, Woolton Village Fete, 1956)

To be fair, this tape only appeared in 2006 (broadcast briefly on a programme celebrating the 40th anniversary of the meeting John and Paul) and was swiftly bought and buried in the McCartney vaults. It's a priceless clip though that needs to be heard, even with such muddy sound, with a 16-year-old Lennon still fully recognisable romping his way through the Vipers classic on the back of a carnival float. The chap who taped this was apparently more interested in the brass band following and was simply 'testing' the tape when he recorded this snippet, which stayed un-played his collection for many decades before his relatives discovered the importance of the tape. How thrilling to hear Lennon how a 14-year-old McCartney would have heard him for the first time!

2) "Love Of The Loved" (Decca Audition Tape 1962)

The Beatles taped 15 numbers for their surprisingly lengthy audition tape for Decca records on January 1st 1962. Five of them appeared on 'Anthology One' but the most interesting song - an early McCartney original, later given away to Cilla Black in 1964 - sadly wasn't one of them. Paul might have been embarrassed by some of his early rhymes but 'Loved' is still a pretty decent song for a newbie songwriter from such an early period and the Beatles turn in arguably their best performance of the entire audition tape here (Pete Best sounds notably at home on this dramatic track!)

3) "Some Other Guy" (Live at the Cavern Club 1962)

The earliest TV footage of the Beatles that exists was taped in late August 1962 for the documentary series 'People and Places' - although the Beatles clip was never actually used in the show. A storming clip of the Beatles singing their earliest favourite showstopper and one of Lennon's all-time favourite songs (an 'unwritten rule' meant that The Beatles couldn't release their version of it when the Searchers beat them to it on disc in early 1963) is the best thing we have to experiencing what the Cavern Club must have been like, with a packed screaming audience parked either side of the camera. The footage was used on the Anthology TV series (and was first broadcast as part of the excellent compilation 'The Early Beatles' in 1982) but sadly the soundtrack wasn't included on disc. The Beatles returned to 'Some Other Guy' once more for their 'Pop Go The Beatles' radio series, although this earthier, grungier version is the more exciting of the two.

4) "Catcall" (Rehearsal 1960)

This fun instrumental (occasionally announced as 'Cats Walk' on stage) was one of Paul McCartney's first compositions and was often 'busked' during the many Beatles Cavern sets where a combination of water and sweat got into the electrics and killed all their amps! The recording that exists dates from December 1962 - in between the Beatles' first two singles - and was taped during a 'rehearsal' at the Cavern to see how the band sounded. Paul later re-recorded the song in a jazz setting with Chris Barber for release on the Beatles' Apple label in 1968 - few people seemed to realise the author of the A-side and it's one of the poorest-selling and now rare Apple singles!

5) "I Saw Her Standing There" (Cavern Club Rehearsal 1962)

Also taped at that same date was an early version of another Beatles powerhouse 'I Saw Her Standing There', which kicked off the first Beatles LP in style in a version taped on February 1963. This version is a little more tentative but shows the Beatles had already perfected the arrangement of the song. Interestingly, though, the band never seemed to consider it for release on either of their first two singles, despite clearly having written it in time.

6) One After 909 (Cavern Club Rehearsal 1962)

This song won't be released till as late as 1969 when the late-period Beatles revive it for fun during the 'Let It Be' sessions. Anthology 1 included the 1963 studio recording of this song, as taped during the sessions for 'Please Please Me' and reveal a nervous band unhappy with their arrangement. The Beatles are swinging on this earlier version from the Cavern in December 1962. Seeing as the original Anthology sets loved merging different session tapes together I'd love to add the speech from 1969 where Paul reveals that he's finally got the 'joke' of the girl arriving at the wrong location after all those years and Lennon deadpans 'Wrong rhymes with station, you see!'

7) "Help!" (Backing Track 1965)

The biggest chuntering about the Anthology sets when they came out were the plethora of backing tracks. Now I'm quite a fan of backing tracks - generally speaking that's how bands would have played the songs together and what they'd have heard in their headphones whilst adding the vocals and often they sound startlingly different. None of the Anthology backing tracks like 'Within You Without You' sounded all that different but stripped off the vocals 'Help!' sounds like an entirely different song, driven by Lennon's angular acoustic guitar riff and some of Ringo's best drumming.

8) That Means A Lot (More Session Tapes 1965)

Anthology 1 featured the final moody version of one of the Beatles' most laughed-at songs *unfairly I think - this is a great song, just not a great Beatles song). However even more revealing are the unreleased session tapes where the Beatles slowly perfect the arrangement after abandoned attempts in their usual 'rocky' style and McCartney's protests that the key is too high for him to sing, despite being the Beatle who wrote it!

9) "Tomorrow Never Knows" (Tape Loops 1966)

There's a sad lack of tapes from the 'Revolver' sessions doing the rounds, but when all the master tapes were 'separated' from each other for the 'Beatles Rock Band' game six years ago one enterprising bootlegger kept a copy of all the tape loops that went into one of the Beatles' greatest achievements. Slowed down to their proper speed those familiar sounds that once rushed past us are now revealed as McCartney laughing and various loops of a Tchaikovsky symphony. 

10) "Carnival Of Light" (Unreleased studio collage 1967)

No one outside the band and the lucky few who were there at a 'rave' at London's Roundhouse ever got to hear this 'song', which was taped after the vocal sessions for 'Penny Lane' in January 1967. A cut-up collage, loosely protesting against the Vietnam war, it was instigated by McCartney and recorded by the other Beatles a full 18 months before Lennon's similar 'Revolution no 9'. Apparently it doesn't sound much like the Beatles and all the versions on Yotube' 'pretending' to be this song are probably cheats (although we'd never know the difference, probably). Rumour had it that this song was binned after being 'premiered' at the Roundhouse event but no - Macca's kept it in his collection all these years and was keen to put it out on 'Anthology Two'. George Harrison, however, hated it at the time and even more hearing it back in the 1990s and vetoed it's release (that controversial backing track for 'Within You Without You' was the last minute replacement). 

11) "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" (Without Overdubs 1967)

My biggest problem with 'Sgt Peppers' being the 'best ever Beatles album' is that there isn't one really good rocker on it. This revealing session tape shows how different things could have been, however, with Paul singing a rough guide vocal to a guitar-bass-and-drums backing before the horn embellishments turn this song into a brass band rather than a Beatles feature. The song's shuffling fade, after the announcement of Billy Shears, is also a rare chance to hear the Beatles jamming for the sheer sake of pleasure, despite knowing that the track would have segued into 'With A Little Help From My Friends' long before.

12) "She's Leaving Home" (unedited version 1967)

Not much of a change really, but it's still fascinating to hear 'She's Leaving Home' the way it was first intended, with a moody 3-note cello phrase before every verse cut from the master-tape for unknown reasons. One of the more recent Beatle bootleg recordings to make an appearance, it's likely this version of the song was taken from a 'monitor' mix, taken home by one of the Beatles or George Martin to study. 

13) "I Am The Walrus" (Monitor Mix before overdubs 1967)

There are millions of fine versions of 'Walrus' doing the rounds on bootleg so in true 'Anthology' style mine would be a hybrid, starting off as the grungy bass-and-drums-and-vocal first take that featured Lennon literally spitting into his microphone (with even more distortion than the finished product) and switching gears halfway through to present just Lennon's vocal with George Martin's superb orchestral score. Oh and the radio chat of course, taken from a 1967 production of 'King Lear' that happened to be going out live when the song was first mixed. 

14) "Aerial Tour Instrumental" (TV Special Soundtrack 1967)
We already know this brief doodling fragment well, of course - it crops up w
hen the four 'magician' Beatles try to give the Magical Mystery Tour bus a 'lovely time' in the Boxing Day 1967 TV special. A slightly longer segment of it exists in the vaults though, presumably with McCartney playing the mellotron line so similar in style to his part on 'Strawberry Fields Forever' from earlier in the year.

15) "Circles" (Harrison Demo 1968)

The Beatles taped some 30-odd acoustic guitar demos when they got home from their trip to India but this recording - like the others recorded in McCartney's domed 'outhouse' in London - is the best of the ones that didn't make it to Anthology Three. A moody song not unlike 'Blue Jay Way', George's eerie, empty demo is far better than the 'polished' version he recorded for 'Gone Troppo' in 1982!

16) "Sour Milk Sea" (George Harrison guide vocal 1968)

Perhaps the single best 'song' that didn't make it to any of the three Anthologies, this is a composition George wrote for his good friend Jackie Lomax and duly appeared on his first self-titled and sadly poor-selling LP for Apple in 1968. George recorded a guide vocal for Lomax, however, and with his voice re-instated it sounds a very George-song, full of warnings for those who leave the spiritual path and spend their time getting angry about things and people instead of letting things go. Along with 'Not Guilty' it seems ridiculous that these songs weren't released on 'The White Album' instead of 'Piggies' and 'Savoy Truffle'!

17) "Sexy Sadie" (Unedited Version 1968)

A thirty-second chunk was taken out of this recording when it was being mixed for The White Album. It's not all that different - it's simply another loop of the guitar phrase heard in the middle of the song, but it does make 'Sexy Sadie' a bit sturdier on her legs and gives you the chance to hear some extra 'wah wah wah' Beatles backing vocals.

18) "Helter Skelter" (Unedited Version 1968)

The slower, moodier version of 'Helter Skelter' as featured on Anthology 3 is actually a four minute edit of a 20-minute powerhouse that the few priviliges people who've heard it say really gets going just at the point where Anthology fades the tape. Inspired by a review of The Who's single 'I can See For Miles' (which was described by the reviewer as the 'loudest, rawest, dirtiest recording ever) it may be that McCartney at first didn't want to challenge The Who on their own turf but recorded the second nastier 'White Album' version when he realised that what the Who had done was record a chaotically noisy overdubbed song rather than a bare-bones rocker. 

 Disc Two:

19) "Revolution" (Unedited Version 1968)

Worth the price of admission alone, this is another 20 minute epic leaked on Youtube a couple of years ago and features the original full version of 'Revolution' - the original, slower 'no 1' recording on 'The White Album' rather than the poppier single version. This is a work-in-progress mix of how John originally intended 'revolution' running seamlessly into the first half of 'Revolution 9' (and ending when Yoko declaims 'you become naked!') This mix features Paul and George getting bored on the backing vocals and mutating into 'mama dada ' from 'you know you gotta be!', more Lennon grunts and gasps and even more spoken word passages that were buried in the mix in the finished version. Interestingly the beginning of the song, sans polished production, sparkles greater than ever too even before the 'arty' parts begin. Lennon was never happy with what happened to one of his favourite songs (especially when 'Hey Jude' beat it to become the 'A-side') and hearing how badly his ideas got cut down to size he was probably right!

20) "It's All Too Much" (Unedited Version 1968)

Not quite so long this one, running to a mere (!) nine minutes, with most of the extra unheard material coming during the last quarter. One of the Beatles' most out-there songs anyway suddenly sounds a whole lot more weird and pscyhedelic with even more 'too much-as' mutating into everything from 'tuba' to 'do much'! 

21) "Hey Bulldog" (Backing Track 1968)

One of the Beatles' finest, spikiest backing tracks, complete with an interesting false start. Lennon's tricky piano chord sequence sounds like it will collapse at any minute but somehow the Beatles keep it together for perhaps the last great all-in-the-same room performance of their career. 

22) "Goodbye" (Demo 1968)

One of Paul McCartney's sweetiest, catchiest tunes was recorded in demo form before being given to Apple signing Mary Hopkin to record. Shorn of the oompah-ing brass band and given an extra kick from Macca's lovely falsetto, this version of 'Goodbye' is clearly the 'keeper' and is easily one of the best songs the 'Beatles gave away'. 

23) "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" (Early Version - duet between Lennon and Billy Preston 1969)

Here starts a run of songs from the epic 'Let It Be/Get Back' sessions, all of which was taped by the camera crew for use in the documentary film and almost all of which has gone unheard to date. This take is a 'Let It Be' era version of the 'Abbey Road' classics that clearly hasn't been finished yet, with John and guest Billy Preston trading the opening verse over and over across a grungy backing. An anthology-style collage with a  slightly version from 'Abbey Road', with Paul taking over the lead vocals for a particularly rocky version of the finished song, would make this recording even more interesting for Beatle fans. 

24) "Two Of Us" ('Accent' Version, outtake 1969)

Growing increasingly bored with rehearsing the same material over and over, one or more Beatles often lapsed into parody. This recording is the funniest Beatles track outside the 'Christmas flexi-discs' and 'Pop Go The Beatles' interviews, as John and Paul try out some variations on this lovely song, from exaggerated Scots to memories of their own Scouse backgrounds. Hoots mon them bonny Beatles are a reet laugh and no mistake!

25) "Maureen" (Unreleased Harrison Song circa 1969)

This Let It Be outtake is one that I can guarantee will never find release in any form - well not for another century or so anyway. A mock love song written by George for Ringo's wife Maureen, session tapes add that he was 'thinking about her' the night before and came up with a 'funny little song'. Ringo laughs, but wasn't laughing quite so hard a couple of years later in 1971, when George told his old friend that he was in love with his wife and tried to start an affair with her (Maureen said no - we think). 

26) "All I Want Is You" (Unreleased Lennon song 1969)

I'd love to know whether this 'Let It Be' jam came before or after 'Dig A Pony' - its similar enough to that song's chorus to clearly share some DNA but goes off in quite a different direction, a bluesy piano-based jam that could have been quite interesting had The Beatles ever paid attention long enough to finish it. 

27) "Watching Rainbows" (Unreleased Lennon Song 1969)

One of the most famous of Beatles outtakes and the title of more than one bootleg down the years, this is another bluesy Lennon piano jam but with some proper words this time, all about watching out for rainbows after a 'storm' (Yoko may have 'borrowed' the idea for her own 'It's Alright (I See Rainbows)' in 1985. 

28) "Zero Is Just Another Number" (Unreleased Lennon Song 1969)

Another Lennon jam not unlike Mean Mr Mustard but with no words at all (the inventive title was given to the song by a bootlegger in the 1970s and seems to have stuck). This, surely, is the real 'Beatles without their trousers on' Lennon wanted to release in 1969!

29) "Gone Gone Gone" (Unreleased Lennon Song 1969)

Another Lennon song, sounding like one of the many 1950s rock and roll standards the Beatles jammed to in the 1960s but apparently another Lennon original. It shares some similarities with the more famous outtake 'Suzy Parker' but is far superior in my opinion, with a real slinky groove.

30) "Oh I Need You!" (Unreleased Lennon song 1969)

The final unreleased Lennon song on the list is from 'Abbey Road'. A slow, mournful ballad that sounds much more McCartney's rounded style than Lennon's usual angular creations, it's lyrically clearly part of the same batch of stark love songs to Yoko along with 'I Want You' and 'Don't Let Me Down'. Alas the snippet out on bootleg is all too brief, running to 90 seconds or so, but hopefully there's an even more complete version out there somewhere!

31) "Dehra Duhn" (Unreleased Harrison Song circa 1969)

This is the song George starts busking on ukelele during the 'Anthology' tapes when the others ask him to 'play a bit' of one of the 'White Album' songs he's 'never completed to this day'. George was either lying or had forgotten this pretty complete-sounding track from date unknown, although we've bunged it near the end of this list because it sounds more in keeping with 'Abbey Road' than 'The White Album'. A cute repetitive song not unlike George's later 'Any Road', it's one of his better 'religious' songs of the sixties. 

32) "Abbey Road Medley - Complete" (1969)

This is the version of the 'Abbey Road' medley complete with 'Her Majesty' as originally intended as part of the tracklisting in between 'Polythene Pam' and 'She Came In Through The Bathroom Window' (on playback Paul didn't like it and told tape operator Chris Thomas to 'throw it away' - instead he attached to the end of the 'Abbey Road' master reel after a 30 second pause, the way it appears on the final album). The last crashing note makes much more sense coming out of the end of 'Pam', although it does sound more than a little out of place!

33) Unknown Third Reunion Song (circa 1993)

Yoko gave Paul, George and Ringo three Lennon songs to overdub onto for the 'Anthology' project but one of them didn't like the mysterious third choice (probably George) and instead a George Martin orchestral snippet first intended for 'Good Night' was released in its place on Anthology 3 at the last minute. Apparently the Beatles got quite far with it, although fans still argue over what the third song might have been (some say it was 'Nobody Told Me' before someone pointed out to Yoko she's already released it; others that it was 'Grow Old Along With Me', released only demo form on 1984's  'Milk and Honey' - personally I think it might have been 'Solitude', the eerie near-final demo that's just about the only Lennon song not to be released on some form to date). 
Bonus Hidden Track: 

The Beatles' 1965 Christmas Fanclub Record: Outtakes/Speech from 'Think For Yourself' Session
  The Beatles were so worn out by 1965 that they couldn't bring themselves to commit to their yearly festive fanclub message with their usual pizazz. Thankfully complete session tapes for the first aborted take do exist and reveal Lennon on top sniping form, a cajoling Macca, a quiet Harrison and an unusually perky Ringo and probably sums up the band's inter-team dynamics better than any other recording, complete with giggles, false starts and lapses into lines the band know can never be used. This can then be followed by the second, equally aborted idea - taping John, Paul and George clowning around while trying to tape the backing vocals for 'Think For Yourself' in late November 1965. This is the only Beatles' session until the Let It Be tapes that was taped in whole and offers an excellent insight into the Beatles at work and (too often for \George Martin's liking) play, even if they are a little too self-aware about being taped and trying to come up with something funny. The Beatles did indeed tape a third go at the Christmas fanclub very much at the last minute, but it too is a little lacklustre and accepted by connousiers as the weakest of the seven festive recordings: of course, as we've said many times elsewhere on this site, they deserve  a proper re-issue too.

Well, there you have it - a collection sure to sell millions of units, if The Beatles ever agree to it's release. Alternatively, of course, we could just have a 'Beatles Sessions' CD for every year until 2021 (when 'Let It Be' and 'Abbey Road' go out of print), in which case I won't be complaining!... See you next week for more news, views and most likely music!

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