Monday, 10 November 2014

The Beatles: Non-Album Songs Part 2: 1964-67

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BBC Sessions #3: 1964
A) There don't tend to be many 'new' Beatle songs on the twelve musical radio shows The Beatles performed across 1964. By now the band are that little bit further from their 'Hamburg' days when they could play anything and everything and by and having less shows to record means that they're more keen on plugging whatever their current album happens to be. However, there are two final selections recorded for the BBC in 1964 that never appeared on album, both of which were later released on 'At The BBC - Volume One' (1993).
[133]  'Johnny B Goode' (Broadcast on 'Saturday Club' on February 15th 1964) is the first of these, a hard rocking attack on perhaps Chuck Berry's most famous song. While not quite up to the witty observations of 'Memphis' or 'Monkey Business' you can see why this song would appeal to Lennon: it's about a 'bad boy' who 'never learned to read or write so well' but is an ace guitarist with audience flocking from miles around. The delight of finding that music is the way to solve all ills is a theme that crops up again and again in Lennon's cover choices ('Rock and Roll Music' is another). George turns in another clever variant on Chuck's by now over-familiar original, busking close to but not quite identically to the original version.
[134] B) 'I Forgot To Remember To Forget' (Broadcast on 'From Us To You' on May 18th 1964) is an interesting choice of song to cover. The furthest Elvis ever got to doing 'country', this song features a very nervy-sounding George audibly struggling on a song that demands a lot from his voice and a 'stage patter' that's quite clearly getting on his nerves (the BBC set comes with the speech leading up to this song, where the elder and respected Freeman pretends not to understand the name of the song and George, allegedly ad libbing, adds 'I would tell you [the name of the song] if you weren't so thick!' In 1963 this was the equivalent of swearing at your teacher - or telling the Queen to 'rattle yer jewellery' and only added to The Beatles' reputation. In truth the chat is a lot more interesting and revealing than the song, which simply has a chuckle around the ridiculousness of the title.
And that's where the Beatles' BBC broadcast ends - or at least the 'exclusive' songs do. The very last 'proper' radio broadcast (ie where they play new versions of songs instead of being interviewed or introducing records) is on June 7th 1965 where 'The Beatles Invite You To Take A Ticket To Ride' - basically a long trailer for the 'Help!' film. By then, however, the days of reviving old songs is long gone and The Beatles are more likely to be seen on television across 1965 and 1966 than on radio - until 1967 when, post touring, they are rarely seen at all. It's the end of an era of innocence and unbridled joy, one that the BBC sessions - more than any other Beatles product - captured for all time.Non-Album Recordings Part #7: 1964 (EMI)

A) I can guarantee that when a nervous Beatles trotted into Abbey Road Studios to bash out the ten songs they needed to complete 'Please Please Me' in one shift in February 1963 they had no idea that, less than a year later, they'd be ushered into a studio in Paris to re-record German-language versions of two number one records as their first recording job of the year. Back in 1964 this was common practice and every band did it (we did a whole piece on our website about the AAA foreign-language recordings around - The Searchers, then The Hollies, then The Monkees did the most if you're wondering) in order to squeeze a little more money out of a non-English speaking country. Apparently the project was inspired by a bright spark from the German branch of EMI who rang up George Martin personally to request some Beatle hits in German; George had agreed without really thinking and the band weren't very keen on the idea. In actual fact, 'German' was a daft choice - Germany was one of the first places to catch on  to the Merseybeat sound and to this day 1960s music has a bigger following there than nearly anywhere else (Germany is currently third in our AAA stat-counter behind the UK and US!) What's more, nobody needed a translation of 'My Bonnie' for that song to be a (minor) hit there - EMI people are daft sometimes (The Beatles should have recorded in French - The Hollies did lots of new recordings for the French market and, they were the last Western European market to 'get' The Beatles - the band could even be heard on a 1964 tour there below the screams, which was then they first came to be shocked at how badly they were playing; the fact that the band were actually physically in Paris where they could get a translation made in minutes must also, surely, have been a better idea). The wonder, in retrospect is that The Beatles held out for as long as they did without resorting to the common practice every band went through - although equally the speed of The Beatles' trajectory meant that asking them to record any other songs in a foreign language when they'd already scored #1s almost everywhere was ludicrous. Thankfully, these two songs - which once used to be among the rarest of Beatle official releases - have been treated officially as part of the 'family' since 1988 and make for a nice addition to the 'Past Masters Volume One' compilation, a reminder of just what international superstars The Beatles were.
 [135] 'Komm Gib Mer Deine Hand' is, for anyone who didn't get there first, 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.  This one was quite straight forward: all The Beatles had to do for this one was stand in front of a microphone and sing (as well as add a few handclaps that weren't there on the original), which was just as well because the band had spent a tired few hours trying to get to grips with 'Can't Buy Me Love' the same day. The translation of this song is, apparently (my German's a bit rusty), awful - instead of 'I'll tell you something, I think you'll understand' the 'German' lyrics translate as 'Oh come to me - you drive me out of my mind!' (which is pretty much the message of the song but far less clever or subtle!) The second verse goes 'you're so pretty, as pretty as a diamond...' - seriously, no wonder the English version of this song sold better than the German one despite all the struggle. The person EMI used, Jean Nicholas, was actually a pseudonym for Camillo Felgen, who wasn't even German (he was from Luxemborg). Worse, he used a couple of 'extra pseudonyms' when submitting his work to the music publishers - reportedly a tax dodge that made him more money from these songs than The Beatles ever saw, which rather sums up this sorry state of affairs. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
[136] B) 'Sie Liebt Dich' - 'She Loves You' to you and me and no, it doesn't translate as what you're thinking, stop it at once! - was harder to manage. The way that the English version of the single had been recorded meant that the vocals and instruments couldn't be separated so, after a lot of sighing, The Beatles re-recorded the whole thing from scratch. Luckily 'She Loves You' was still part of their setlist back then so they knew it well - even so it took 13 takes to get it right (bootlegs reveal an awful lot of laughter going on when overdubbing the vocals!) The lyrics on this one are closer to the record but still lack a vital something. For instance: 'You think she loves only me? Yesterday I saw her. She only thinks of you - you should go to her'. My favourite verse, though is the now incomprehensible middle one: 'You have hurt her, she didn't know why, it wasn't your fault - you didn't turn around...' Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
C) The Beatles were onto slightly firmer ground with[112b]  'Can't Buy Me Love', a new McCartney original intended from the first as a Beatles single. As you'll know if you've come to this article after our review of 'A Hard Day's Night', I'm not really a fan of this song. What other people see as a Beatles single that breaks the mould (the first one not to be about 'me' or 'I' or 'you') I see as a backward step: the jazzy shuffle rhythm was a very retro sound for 1964 and the whole song sounds to me as if it's Paul 'playing' at writing in an old style rhythm rather than believing in the song (it might be significant that is one of the few early McCartney songs Lennon didn't have much of a hand in). However the first version, as heard per 'Anthology',  I do like - it's a more comfortable fit for The Beatles sound and the roughness here is a lot more appealing than the slick and artificial feel of the final version. The main arranging differences is the addition of some roughshod John and George harmony and a rather more country-and-western guitar sound, with George going completely off the boil in the solo. However even this shows signs of the 'meddling' that ruined the Anthology project for many fans: the main backing is from 'take two' but George's guitar solo added from 'take one' - why? Did he not play one on take two (and if he did surely it couldn't be worse than this one?!)  Still, hearing The Beatles forming a song in a 'midway' state is always fascinating and as with the finished product, much fun can be had guessing whether Lennon really was ripping this song off for 'All You Need Is Love' as well...Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
D) Similarly, the loose raw take of [117b] 'You Can't Do That' has an extra spice missing from the almost too calculated finished product. This is take six of a song The Beatles are clearly finding it hard to get to grips with and there are many changes here: no cowbell, for one, while only George plays a 12-string Rickenbacker (the final version features John and George playing together). Considering that the sleevenotes list as just a 'guide vocal', Lennon is right on the money here, opening with an energetic '1-2-3-4' count in and sounding just as mad but slightly less intense than the finished version. You can tell there's a few rough edges to knock into places, but the song is very nearly there and in many ways sounds better in the outtake. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
E) The early take of [110b] 'And I Love Her', however, is almost laughably wrong - one of the few times The Beatles ever got an arrangement for a song quite this wrong! On 'A Hard Day's Night' The Beatles will show great sensitivity and new abilities, playing without bass or drums. This version of the song is played by the band as usual and sounds like a mess - so much so that McCartney gets the giggles during his lines about 'the stars that shine'. If this was the narrator's real idea of a romantic night out, he deserves a slap what with Ringo clod-hopping everywhere at full power. Recorded two days before the version we know and love, the difference is remarkable. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
F) We take a break from our 'Hard Day's Night' next for a real Beatles one-off. Worn out from filming 'A Hard Day's Night', The Beatles found themselves ushered into a TV studio for a 'special' that must have struck the band as uncomfortably like the one they'd been spoofing at the end of the film. The director was Jack Good (best known for the 1950s music series 'Oh Boy!') who won their respect, though and his professionalism must have made a change from Dick Lester's looser style. As part of the show (discussed in our 'TV Clips' section near the end of the book) the fab four get to spoof some Shakespeare and close with a mini-concert. Keen to give their fans value for money, they play a one-off, never-repeated version of one of their favourite songs of the year:[ 137] 'Shout', a hit for a 14-year old Scottish singer named Lulu (and a fellow alumni of the AAA) and the second surprise 'hit' for The Isley Brothers who were enjoying a new wave of popularity after The Beatles covered 'Twist and Shout' the year before. Reduced to 90 seconds of screaming and dynamics all the band take it in turns to sing: Paul gets to tell the audience to 'kick your heels back', John pleads us to 'take it easy', George asks for the song to go 'a little bit softer now' and Ringo yells 'a little bit louder now' before Paul riffs on the famous 'he-e-e-y' in the middle of the song (sadly no one gets to sing that famous opening word 'we-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ell' that Lulu does so well). The result isn't a long lost Beatles classic and most of us Beatleologists would have preferred to hear the full song, but it's a nice bit of Beatle ephemera and deserves it's place on 'Anthology'. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
G) With a film title for [106b] 'A Hard Day's Night' decided upon late in the day (from Ringo's ad libbed witticism, famously, although Lennon had used the phrase as part of 'In His Own Write' first), all that was left was to write and record a title song in quick order. The songwriting went easily - the recording less so, as Anthology One revealed to the world. As take one this version is almost unbearably rough, harmony parts come and go, George's guitar stutters almost to a halt and  Lennon gets the giggles as his new song falls apart around his ears near the end. For all that, though, this version of the song is joyous: the band know they're onto something and that they'll get their eventually and the song already sounds remarkable and quite unlike anything else around in 1964. The biggest difference, though, is that famous opening Rickenbacker chord, only added to the arrangement much later (the guitar solo is quite different too - how much warning and rehearsal time did George get to learn this song?) Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
H) More outtakes seem to exist for 'A Hard Day's Night' than any album until 'Sgt Peppers'. Next up is two separate attempts at impressively dramatic closing ballad [118b]  'I'll Be Back' - both ridiculously early in conception  and still being treated by its author as a bit of a joke. The 'demo' version sounds like a warm-up for 'Baby's In Black' later in the year, a waltz that sounds vaguely sinister, one which breaks down as, in Lennon's words, it gets hard to play 'when I start going 'oh oh oh' about eight times' (it's six on the finished version - did this arrangement have two more we didn't hear or is Lennon exaggerating for comic effect?) The second version, meanwhile, treats the song as a rocker - in fact 'I'll Be Back' doesn't sound too bad treated this way and Lennon has at last mastered the tricky section he's written for himself. However neither of these early versions come anywhere close to matching the beauty and sophistication of the finished product - one of the most striking songs and performances from the first half of The Beatles' career. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
I) George's second ever song, [138] 'You'll Know What To Do' had been forgotten about by everybody (author included) until being discovered in EMI's tape vaults in the early 1990s, stuck on a tape labelled 'June 3rd' (the day after recording for 'A Hard Day's Night' officially ended and the day when The Beatles are officially meant to be breaking new drummer Jimmy Nichol in - poor Ringo fell poorly with tonsillitis the night after recording 'When I Get Home', which is an ironic title given that he spent a week in hospital). Only George, thanks to the wonder of overdubs, appears on the track - as the Beatle most in favour of cancelling an Australian tour and wait for Ringo to recover, he may have slinked off to another room somewhere during the session. While not the greatest song Harrison will ever write, 'You'll Know What To Do' is significant as being (probably) his first song for new love interest Patti Boyd (the pair had met just weeks before on the set of 'A Hard Day's Night') and for being the first 'happy' Harrisong (to follow 'Don't Bother Me'). It's certainly more deserving space on the 'A Hard Day's Night' album that Lennon's song for the guitarist 'I'm Happy Just To dance With You' and - with a full Beatles accompaniment - could have turned into something really nice. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
J) Also just missing the 'A Hard Day's Night' deadline was the 'Beatles For Sale' song [119b]  'No Reply', which was demoed the same day (a third song, Paul's 'It's For You', was later given to Cilla Black to sing). The sleevenotes in Anthology raise the idea of whose playing drums on this song given that Jimmy has gone home - so here's my guess: it's Paul 9with George on bass maybe?) A competent drummer with a natural swing beat quite different to Ringo's, this sounds like a simple part that's right up Paul's street (compare to the similar part on 'Back In The USSR', a recording we know features the bassist on drums). Legend has it Lennon was planning this song as a 'gift' for Brian Epstein signing Tommy Quickly - certainly he's not treating it too sensibly here (did he only 'get' the sadness of this song later; the lyrics about a boy who is told by a girl's friends that she's out' but who looks up and sees her silhouette could, at this stage, have gone either way). In truth, this version is a mess: John messes up the line 'your door' and sings 'your face' again (like the end of the first verse) and the famous middle eight ('If I were you...') isn't yet the striking change of pace that makes the finished version so memorable - instead it just sounds like the rest of the song. Still, if nothing else it's fascinating to hear how much the song changes between here and the version tapes on September 30th. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
K) The first version of [124b] 'Mr Moonlight', meanwhile (amazingly the awful version on 'Beatles For Sale' is a re-make) sounds even worse than the finished product. There's no Hammond organ )instead George stabs at his guitar to make a 'Hawaiian' noise while the others yelp behind him - otherwise version is just like the finished product, but rougher. The Beatles shouldn't have wasted one day of their precious time on this nonsense, never mind two! Remember, 'Leave My Kitten Alone' was taped at this same session (on August 14th 1964) and could have been on the album - *sob* how did that one get away?! Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
L)...Because [139] 'Leave My Kitten Alone' is the single greatest completely unreleased Beatles song from the entire three-album, six CD set of Anthologies and very nearly the greatest Beatles cover song to boot ('Twist and Shout' and 'Money' are the other two that might give it sleepless nights - it really is that good!) Few people know the original by Little Willie John - it's a slightly jazzy affair, with backing singers intoning in every few bars, a cute saxophone solo and a dum-dum-dum-duhh-duhh shuffle beat that makes it less of a tiger and more of a pussy-cat (the one big lyric change, by the way, is that a 'bulldog' in Lennon's hands is a 'hound-dog', like the one Elvis had). Another lifelong favourite of Lennon's (so much so you wonder why The Beatles hadn't recorded it any earlier, particularly for 'Pop Go The Beatles'), 'Kitten' is a natural for both Lennon's smoking tonsils (Ringo's back from hospital now by the way!) artfully double-tracked for double the menace, and a 'Chuck Berry' style 4/4 riff that makes this 'dog' sound more like a wolf. The moment when the band briefly leave their usual riff to play some choppy chords as Lennon warns a 'big bad bulldog' off his girlfriend is another of the greatest moments in the Beatles' canon. Even George's solo, often the weak links across Anthology, is perfect: full of menace but also the hint that this huffing and puffing narrator's dog's bark is worse than his bite. Like the oddly similar Lennon original 'Hey Bulldog' to come, this is The Beatles at their basic rock and roll best. The fact that the world (or at least the parts of it who hadn't bought this recording on bootleg) had to wait 30-odd years to hear it is a travesty. Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
M) Finally, we're back to the singles. [140] 'I Feel Fine' isn't the greatest song Lennon ever wrote and briefly returns the Beatles to their 'I' 'Me' 'You' formula, but this song has an awful lot of things going for it. For a kick-off, Lennon's tricky guitar riff (stolen wholesale from Bobby Parker's 'Watch Your Step') is tremendously ear-catching and - oblivious of who came up with it first - introduced the music world to 'riffs' as the central idea in a pop song: the rest of 1964 will be full of many copies and variations, hardly any of them up to the one in 'I Feel Fine'. Secondly, The Beatles' performance is tight and taught, as thrilling as nay they've done till now: Lennon's double-tracked vocal is a delight, Paul and George's harmonies perfectly placed, Ringo's hi-hat work exuberant, Paul's bass an early template for the 'rule-breaking' of the band's psychedelic years and the guitarwork (mostly by Lenno for once) is spot-on. Best of all, the song starts with a wild five-second drone of feedback: revolutionary for 1964 and almost certainly the first use of feedback on a properly released piece of music. What's more, this isn't just an arbitrary bit of gimmickry to sell a song: it fits brilliantly, the narrator's muddled life suddenly coming into focus for the first time now that he's in love. Funnily enough, many Beatles commentators have pointed out that the song's changes (ie how it gets from chord to chord) is derived from blues recordings - it follows the same leaps forward, back and sideways as most blues compositions (compare with B-side 'She's A Woman', which more obviously does the same thing and these two may have been deliberately conceived as 'a pair') although the mood is defiantly upbeat. Could this be Lennon as a thinking songwriter re-acting to the music press' opinions that The Beatles could never write an unhappy tune? Or is it a more scathing artificial attack on the need to come up with a 'jolly' Beatle single just at the time when Lennon has got in touch with his inner angst? Either way, jolly, happy, sunny and hopeful, 'I Feel Fine' can't hope to match The Beatles' later, deeper singles or even the crunch of the singles that have come before it; but then again it doesn't have to. 'I Feel Fine' is more than happy to play by its own rules and on its own terms is an unqualified success. A much under-rated song (in as much as a number one hit single can be an under-rated song). First released as a single on November 23rd 1964. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
N) If 'I Feel Fine' is a cleverly contrived pop single, then B-side [141] 'She's A Woman' is a real attempt to see what The Beatles can get away with. Reduced to a 'power trio'  by George's temporary absence, John (on guitar) Paul (on bass) and Ringo (on drums) busk their way through a song that McCartney had started the morning of the session but hadn't had time to finish (debate still rages about whether the overdubbed solo was done by George at a later date or - more likely to my ears - done later that same day by Paul). A rough blues based around Lennon's grungy slashed chords and a McCartney bass line that just won't sit still, the performance is littered with mistakes that were kept in (John always has problems with his timings and misses a few cues here and there) and the lyric all too clearly shows signs of being made up on the spot ('My love don't give me presents, let me tell you she's no peasant'). However 'She's A Woman' just about gets away with it thanks to the fact that it's an absolute one off (even the most basic of Beatle rockers to come sport more of a tune than this song) and the sheer excitement in the room: even The Beatles don't know if they'll 'get away' with a step this radical and after two years of having to play the 'music game' the way the 'suits' wanted them to this is a bold statement to make. Note too an early reference to 'turn me on when I get lonely' in the lyric - an early appearance of a phrase the band will use more knowingly and dramatically at the end of 'A Day In The Life'. Sadly 'Anthology' missed out on the chance to show to the world one of the greatest of Beatle outtakes, as 'take 7' of 'She's A Woman' gradually descends into a jamming session punctuated by Paul's screams. Now that would really have tested a world of Beatle fans! First released as the B-side of 'I Feel Fine' on November 23rd 1964. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
O) After the slight sojourn to record the single, it's all back to Abbey Road to work on 'Beatles For Sale'. There are noticeably less outtakes from this album than there were for 'A Hard Day's Night' - not just on 'Anthology' either, as even the bootlegs don't have that many more. By now The Beatles have a tiny bit more time to spend on their songs before bringing them into the studio and don't need to spend quite as long rehearsing and adapting. However one song that changed considerably from the early takes to the finished product was [126b] 'Eight Days A Week', planned as the band's new single before they decided to run with 'I Feel Fine'. The first take, as heard on Anthology One, starts with a vocal passage instead of the album's sly fade-in (put there mainly to confuse disc-jockeys back when it was still planned as a single), a single held 'ooh' that causes many mistakes and a fair bit of laughing. The rest of the song is there, but sounds distinctly raw compared to the rather sleek finished project - apart from the ending, which ends with another long held 'ooh' instead  George's ringing guitars. The band were probably right to drop this idea - it's not as ear-catching as the song's hook played on a Harrison Rickenbacker - but it's fascinating to hear (particularly Paul's jokingly defensive about missing a cue: 'Well I'll try to remember John but if I don't then it's just too bad int it?', which tells you much about the slightly more relaxed atmosphere in the studio in late 1964 - well until the deadline looms anyhow...) Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)
P) [125 b] 'Kansas City-Hey!Hey!Hey!Hey!', for instance, was knocked out during a heavy session that saw five other songs recorded the same day (the re-make of 'Eight Days A Week' 'I'll Follow The Sun' 'Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby' 'Rock and Roll Music' and 'Words Of Love'). Still not quite happy with the take of this Little Richard song that appeared on the album - and probably a little surprised that the band have captured a song they haven't played in years in a single take - Paul opts to have another go. Strangely, this version of the song isn't anywhere near as tight as the one the band would have played only a matter of hours, perhaps minutes before, with George badly messing up the solo and busking on the spot and Paul trying to add a few 'whoops' to cover for him. It's a surprise that the song doesn't simply breakdown there but instead the band push on to the end and do come up with a spirited version of the song's famous call-and-answer section. To be honest, though, you wonder why the band bothered - they'd already captured the definitive version of the song and apart from being ever so slightly slower and having a full ending (well, not so much an ending as a crash if I'm honest) there isn't really any big difference in the arrangement. One of Anthology One's odder choices and a rather limp end to the first set - or, for that matter, this rather lengthy section of the book! Find it on: 'Anthology One' (1995)

Non-Album Recordings Part #8: 1965 (EMI)
A) There are some real gems hidden away on B-sides across this series of books -heartfelt songs of beauty and experimentation hidden away safely where bands know only true fans will ever hear them. 'Yes It Is', the B-side to 'Ticket To Ride', is one of the very best. using the same harmonic blend as 'This Boy' but wrapped around a much more interesting chord structure and a vastly more intelligent lyric, [170a] 'Yes It Is' sounds like the first stirrings of Lennon's real feelings in song. The slightly later 'Help!' is always given as the first song - but there's definitely something 'real' hidden away in all the hurt and guilt in this song. The narrator is with a new girlfriend but is being reminding all the time about an old love thanks to the red dress his new girl wears. This song could have easily become just another 'I've lost the love of my life song' and even ads the 'comedy' and very Lennon line that a red dress will make him blue, but 'Yes It Is' digs deeper than that: the mood, the chords, the stately harmonies, even some of the lyrics suggest that the old girlfriend has died ('I remember all the things we planned'). The title too, repeated over and over, is an old songwriter's trick to suggest that the narrator doth protest too much: no one ever says 'it's true' that many times and means it. So where did this come from? This song is so close to the lyrics of 'Baby's In Black' (another paranoid song about another, differently coloured dress) that we ask again - was this song inspired by the brief snatched 'hello' to Astrid Kirccherr during a Beatles tour in 1964? And if so, is it about Lennon's grief at his best friend Stuart not being by her side the way he should be? (although not a Beatle when he died in April 1962 he would surely have still been a part of the band's big success somewhere - Lennon did many things to many friends but he rarely deserted them without just cause).  Is the 'old lover' his new flame reminds him of actually Astrid reminding him of Stuart? We'll never know, but one thing's for sure - 'Yes It Is' simply has to be about someone; even by comparison with Lennon's later works this is an emotional web of a song with some form of truth in it somewhere. The end result is a song that's telling us many different things, laced through with an almost icily detached leads from John and some pristine harmonies from Paul and George, as well as the latter's new purchase of a pedal steel (which is going to be on everything from the first half of the 1965 but is particularly suited to this mournful song). The end result is one of the most gorgeous Beatles recordings of them all, a song that managed to be both a great single in its own right and a good match for the A-side, another experimental song using new textures that's about bewildered abandonment. First released as the B-side of 'Ticket To Ride' on April 09th 1965. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
B) McCartney, meanwhile, is keen to try a quite different experiment for the B-side of next single, 'Help!' The song [171a] 'I'm Down' is a demented rocker in the Little Richard bracket but you can hear that it started out life as a pastiche of a 'soul' song before being revved up by the band. Paul uses the song as an excuse to have a bit of a laugh at a paranoid narrator whose girlfriend laughs rather than sympathises with him, with some goofy harmony vocals ('I'm down, down on the ground, I'm really down!') and an organ solo best described as 'eccentric' (and most famously played even more outrageously by Lennon at the 'Shea Stadium' gig). The trouble is, the end product has had most of its teeth removed: many 'soul' songs are 'down' songs and a spoof of one of those (which would automatically beg comparison with what Mick Jagger was then doing on Rolling Stones records) might have been quite fun. Here, though, Paul sings 'I'm Down' to the backdrop of a genre that hardly ever made songs about being 'down'. Ironically, the only really 'down' rock and roll song before this that most people can name is...'Ticket To Ride' (and 'Yes It Is' if you're a real fan). Was Paul, famous for his happy-go-lucky personality, having a bit of a 'dig' at his colleague here as his depressed state across much of 1965 threatened to bring the others 'down'? If so, then he's in for a rude awakening of his own as from here on in Paul's songs will get more and more 'down' without the need for parody, mainly thanks to his on-off relationship with Jane Asher. First released as the B-side of 'Help!'  on July 19th 1965 Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
C) Anthology also provides a couple of alternate versions of these B-sides. The early take of [170b] 'Yes It Is' is actually not that interesting (and a strange choice to put second on 'Anthology Two, after 'new' single 'Real Love' - before you ask chronology isn't one of Anthology's better features!) Lennon sings a guide vocal to go along with his original arrangement of an acoustic guitar and drums (the first of which will be redundant once George gets his pedal-steel out of the case). Not knowing that his vocal is going to be kept for fans to hear 30 years later, Lennon is barely noticing that he's sing at all - it's simply there to give the rest of the band an idea of where they are in the song. That's fair enough - but why do we have to hear Lennon not as his best? And why bother segueing the song into the 'master' take of the B-side which all good Beatles fans own already? The one interesting thing we learn from this version is that Lennon hadn't written the middle eight yet ('I could be happy with you by my side...') Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
D) By contrast, the earlier looser take of [171b]  'I'm Down' is a revelation: shorn of all the extras: the organ solo, the masses of harmonies and the overdubs, 'I'm Down' loses the slight archness of the finished product to become one of the band's better simpler rockers. The band are having great fun on the fade, which instead of fading just keeps on going with Ringo having a go at whacking the cymbals rather than the bass-drum and Paul bringing out every yelp and chirp he can think of (including his famous dog impression, which will prove handy on 'Hey Bulldog' in a few years). The atmosphere in the room is electric and the band are all buzzing even after the song has ended (Ringo busking some jazz phrases while Paul intones 'plastic soul', his take on the 'parody' he's just delivered  which - with a fairly major tweak - becomes the title of the next Beatles album 'Rubber Soul'). Paul says at the start that he hopes 'this one turns out pretty darn good' - he needn't worry, it does. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
E) The early take of [144b]'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' isn't quite an improvement on the version from 'Help!' we all know and love, but is still a fascinating find. Without as many overdubs and without the double-tracked vocal, Lennon's song of pain and denial sounds even more naked and honest and his vocal is even more 'in the moment' than the final version. The sparser accompaniment suits the song too, with the acoustic guitars back centre stage even if you do miss the flute solo in the middle. This fine performance from all concerned is even more astonishing given the goonish humour just before the take: John moves his guitar, Paul accidentally breaks a glass, John makes up a song about it and then has to halt when Paul isn't ready (the one time on tape one of the rest of the band calls him 'Macca'!) Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
F) John and Paul were really struggling to find a song for Ringo to sing in 1965. 'I Wanna Be Your Man' had just kind of happened and, disliked by the authors, was handed to Ringo as being inside his 'range', while till now the band have been able to use all their drummer's showpieces from his Rory Storm and the Hurricane days (many of them sung by Pete Best with The Beatles any case). By now, though, the well has run dry. Inspiration running dry, John and Paul come up with what is generally regarded as their weakest song, [172] 'If You've Got Trouble'. A rather unsubtle, pounding song that Ringo could play and sing at the same time and a lyric that plays on Ringo' 'jinxed' persona (especially in America - see The Beatles cartoons and their increasingly un-Ringo like Ringo as the series wears on) that seems to be tailor made for the 'Help!' film (I don't know for certain but Dick Lester would almost certainly have asked for a 'Ringo' song given that the drummer was the film's main focus and the song was recorded in February, at the same time as the 'soundtrack' half of the album; note also the mention of 'rings', a major sub-plot of the film). However despite being such a simple song the band are clearly struggling with it inside Abbey Road: George's improvised guitar solo is a mess, no one is quite sure what to do behind it and Ringo is cross enough to wisecrack 'Rock on...anybody!' in sheer desperation. However, while the recording is sloppy (the band only ever made one take of it) and the lyrics definitely need a tweak ('You think I'm soft in the head - well try someone softer pretty thing!'), there's a good song in there somewhere. The Beatles' Rickenbacker guitars ring out really well on a classic driving riff and the main verse's melody (almost certainly by Paul, perhaps with a middle eight by John) is pleasingly rounded and catchy. Perhaps if the band had tried to write a 'proper' song with these ingredients rather than a 'Ringo' song this composition might be more fondly regarded. In the end The Beatles admitted defeat and - a full four months later recorded Ringo's Buck Owens cover 'Act Naturally' as a last minute replacement. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
G) There really aren't that many completely abandoned Lennon-McCartney songs recorded at Beatle sessions. Funnily enough the only other one played by a full band (ignoring the 'jam sessions' on Let It Be and the songs that will creep out later on solo albums) was taped just two days later. The mainly McCartney-led [173]  'That Means A Lot' is another outtake much laughed at by the Beatles fanbase, mainly for the rather clunky lines which Paul tends to churn out when in need of inspiration ('A touch can mean so much when it's all you've got - but when she says she loves you, that means a lot!') Paul was probably given a clue about how badly the song was going when, in the early and still unissued takes, The Beatles simply trip over their big feet and leave Paul having to croon to stay in rhythm, like a demented lounge singer. By the take on 'Anthology Two', though (a re-make cut at the end of March) they've ever so nearly got it. Someone (Lennon?) has been listening to Phil Spector and worked out how he creates 'big' textures so - after a session trying to make this song sound 'big' simply by playing  the way 'Ticket To Ride' did - the band turn on the echo chambers and make the whole song sound cavernous. This vastly improves the song, giving McCartney a production that masks the slight failings in the words and he turns in a blistering vocal, amongst the best in his career. Ringo, meanwhile, has mastered the funny drum track Paul was trying to get him to play. While far from the best McCartney song ever written, the strong group performance rescues it more than enough to make the second side of 'Help!' and it deserved a better fate than to be issued, once, as an obscure non-charting single by P J Proby the year before he ripped his trousers on stage and spent a lifetime trying to live the fact down. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
H) [174] 'Bad Boy' is another song dismissed by The Beatles at the time and smuggled away to the back of EMI's vaults, a frenetic cover of a Larry Williams song cut the same day as the 'other' Williams cover song 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy' (the date was Williams' birthday, which might explain why, but then The Beatles never did this sort of thing for Chuck Berry's or Little Richard's birthday - perhaps, knowing they needed a song in a hurry, they happened to hear on a radio that the songwriter was having many happy returns?) A fun last hurrah for the rocking Beatles and that familiar Lennon scream, it's another song that sounds close to Lennon's heart (you can just imagine Aunt Mimi nodding along with 'Junior's 'Dennis the Menace' antics when her nephew brought this song back to play here). John is on great form and Ringo's on the money too, but Paul and George sound a little out of it - Paul's bass seems to be caught unawares at the start and never quite catches up while George's double-tracked guitar parts is an experiment too far, making the song sound like being lost in a house of mirrors. 'Bad Boy' is crying for a crisp, clean performance, like the one on 'I'm Down' rather than what it gets here and The Beatles might have been better off covering Larry Williams' B-side, the now even more famous 'She Said Yeah!' (thanks to cover versions by The Rolling Stones and Hollies). Still, there are worse Beatles covers and America in particular took this song to its hearts - it was the only song in The Beatles' lifetime they got 'first', appearing on the 'Beatles VI' album in late 1965; Europe first heard it as the one exclusive track on Christmas 1966 compilation 'A Collection Of Oldies But Mouldies' (alright, 'Goldies'!) Ringo later recorded an album titled 'Bad Boy' in 1978, although sadly he didn't cover this song! Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume One' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
I) After two comparative failures (in the eyes of most fans anyway), McCartney bounces back with [154b]  'Yesterday' - a song that's been around at least a year in some form by now, which makes the opening of the 'take one' version heard on 'Anthology' rather odd. Paul is teaching George the chords, despite the fact that people around The Beatles in 1965 say McCartney played little else (not quite realising what a boost it would be to the film soundtrack, Dick Lester once told Paul playing an instrumental version in-between takes 'either finish that ruddy song or I'll have that piano removed!') What's more George doesn't play on this bare-bones version which for now features just Paul and acoustic guitar. Something's badly missing without the string part to go with it and Paul's vocal is a long way from the warm and tender one he'll deliver on the final record. However, it's nice for us fans to hear 'Yesterday' the way it was originally meant to be heard, a snapshot in time that, yes, does indeed make us yearn for 'yesterday'. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
J) [150b] 'It's Only Love' is generally considered to be one of Lennon's weaker songs (although I stuck up for in the review of 'Help!') The finished version just about gets away with its teenage romance lyrics thanks to a committed vocal and a strong production that makes the most out of double-tracking, George's exquisite guitar purrs and Ringo's clashing drums. By contrast this early version without all three of those things (Ringo plays a much simpler part) just sounds silly, even though - unlike the finished version - John doesn't get the giggles. The song's working title at this stage, by the way, was 'That's A Nice Hat'! One of Anthology's lesser moments. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
J) Onto 'Rubber Soul', now, and [157b] 'Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)', a track The Beatles spent an awful long time on - there are thought to be four very different arrangements, two of which have been released and a third which is something of a bootlegger's favourite. This 'Anthology' version is the very first of these, take one in fact, with more emphasis on George's sitar (which mimics every line, parrot fashion) and interesting constant cymbal tapping from Ringo. For now 'Norwegian Wood' sounds a little too self-aware, with Lennon's voice not yet dripping with delicious irony as the tables are turned on himself, and ends with a 'comedic' sitar strum that makes the track sounds like a music hall routine. To be fair this arrangement could have worked had the band spent a few more takes on it - although I prefer the finished version, with all its folk touches, rather better. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
K) I am, however, rather fond of the early 'Anthology' version of [165b] 'I'm Looking Through You', which along with most fans I now rate as high as the finished version. The finished version is more subtle, but the sudden extreme switches between peace and quiet and ferocious screams really suits this folkier version, tied together with an interesting 'tapping' rhythm (probably Ringo playing the same 'packing case' he used on 'Words Of Love'). The guitar solo, played by George against a thumped Hammond organ part from apparently overdubbed by Ringo, is delightful - finally unleashing the anger hinted at in the rest of the song. This version does, however, lack the delightful middle eight ('Why tell me why did you not treat me right?', sung twice on the 'Rubber Soul' version) and once again I rather like the folky acoustic flavour of the finished version. A tie! A second version, with a more country-and-western sound (and pitched somewhere between the two versions) also exists and it's surprising that it wasn't considered for Anthology (once again it's a tie!) Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
L) One idea for 'Rubber Soul', ultimately abandoned, was to end the record with a Beatles 12 bar blues of the sort that was by late 1965 back in fashion again (thanks partly to the brilliance of fellow AAA member Otis Redding). With time to finish the album running out, the band 'busked' a simple and repetitive instrumental titled, rather unimaginatively, [175]  '12 Bar Original' at the end of a session that produced 'What Goes On' and kept it on hand 'just in case' nothing better came along. To be honest The Beatles don't seem to have their heart in this. John and Paul find a nice groove, George wails quite happily over the top and George Martin plays some unobtrusive organ trills, but nobody really sounds as if they're enjoying what they're doing and the choice of such a short riff to build a song on doesn't leave the band much room for manoeuvre (although, typically Beatles, they find a way anyway, with some surging guitar 'gulps' downwards near the end of the song). The Anthology version is heavily edited by the way (it lasts 2:56): the original, at some six-and-a-half-minutes makes more sense, especially the way that the riff finally spins out of control near the end. The sketchy state this song is in has made many fans wonder - was this a 'rehearsal' for a later version that was never made? (Did this song even have lyrics to be overdubbed at one stage?!) In the end The Beatles were probably right not to return to this ('Girl' became the last minute song if you were wondering, taped at the end of a rushed final day and that's a much better choice) and the final result probably wouldn't have given Booker T and the MGs too many sleepless nights, but it's an interesting clue as to what The Beatles were listening to while making 'Rubber Soul' (was this song, in fact, written around the title to give the album its own 'soul' song?) Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
M)  The Beatles were on such a role during the end of 1966 that they just couldn't decide which song to release as a single: McCartney's moody ballad that he'd been working on for a while or the song John and Paul built around a riff the latter came up with suddenly one inspired day. Being The Beatles, they didn't do the sensible thing and hold one of them back for the 'next' single - they put them out as a 'double A' side instead (the first time anyone had done this deliberately, although disc jockeys were forever turning singles over in the early 1960s: that's how the Beach Boys' car songs like '409' 'Shut Down' and 'Don't Worry Baby' became hits). The result is one of the finest value-for-money singles in the Beatles canon (matched only by 'Ticket To Ride' /'Yes It Is'), that despite not being planned that way features two sides that make great foils for each other: one song celebrating a one-off romance and the other trying to make a long-term relationship last.
Fans were at long last 'free' to play whichever song they chose, with both sides having 'A' stamped across them. However the compilers of 'Past Masters Volume Two' put [176]  'Day Tripper' first and so shall we. An almost defiantly contemporary song, as if determined to take back The Beatles' crown from the 'heavier' groups like The Kinks and The Who who'd been big in 1965, the song is built on a catchy riff that's relentless and - like many of the recordings on 'Rubber Soul' - may have had its origins in the 'soul' sound (Otis Redding's one and only Beatles cover version was a manic 'Day Tripper', which oddly works less well than a more laidback cover of The Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction'). The lyrics are fascinating and can be read in several ways: is the narrator merely taking a one-day holiday - a romance he doesn't expect to last? Is this a confessional about hi-jinks with a groupie a la 'Norwegian Wood'? Are the band laughing at what, in today's parlance, would be a 'part-time hippie' - someone who only joins the counter-culture at weekends (because he's working 9-5 in the week wearing a nice suit?) Is it the first Beatles songs about drugs? ('Trip' will become the 'in-word' of 1966!) Note the line 'it took me so long to find out - but I found out!' (similar to what Paul will go on to write in 'Got To Get You Into My Life' a song we know now is 'about' drugs).  Or is the song written around the smuggled smut of 'she's a prick teaser' - the line John and Paul are 'really' singing on the one and only mimed TV appearance of this song we have?  The true message of the song perhaps doesn't matter: cleverly written, well executed and with a marvellous piece of Grateful Dead-style tension going into the final verse as each musician gradually gets higher and higher (is getting 'higher' a clue?) is extraordinary - the backing track, leaked on bootleg, shows just what a great 'band' performance this is.  One of the band's better 'A' sides. First released as a double-sided 'A' single with 'We Can Work It Out' on December 3rd 1965. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume Two' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
N) The other side is, of course, [177] 'We Can Work It Out', a pained song from McCartney and clearly written after disagreements with Jane Asher. Being Paul, he's not ready to give up until the relationship is well and truly over, so he writes a plea to start again that's highly effective. Not many McCartney songs up to this point have been quite so emotionally charged and Paul turns in another of his career best vocals, one that's heart-broken and realistic but still determined to fight on. Interestingly, though, the music sounds quite tough and hints that the narrator isn't quite as good a listener as he makes out ('Try to see it my way!' he sings at the start of each verse, interrupting whatever's come before). Paul doesn't mince his words either: 'Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone'. The year 1965 is still about the last time that pop stars can sing teenagery songs about breaking up and getting back together the next day, but as this Christmas number one hints music is about to become much more adult in 1966. Lennon's middle eight, meanwhile, shows what a great songwriting team the pair made: it says everything Paul's just said from a slightly removed, less personal take and in the slightly sadder minor key not the hustle bustle of Paul's major key optimism: 'Life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friend...' (which, incidentally, is almost the entire theme of 'Revolver' the following year). Taped four days later than 'Day Tripper' (in between the sessions for 'In My Life' and 'Nowhere Man' - what a week that was!), this song broke the record for the longest single Beatles session at that time (eleven hours - only one less than was spent on 10 tracks for 'Please Please Me'!) It was time - and money - well spent: 'We Can Work It Out' is one of the band's most thoughtful, considered songs and, despite being less immediate as a single, in point of fact 'out-sold' 'Day Tripper' in terms of the fans who requested the song by name in shops or through radio requests. First released as a double-sided single with 'Day Tripper' in December 3rd 1965. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume Two' (1988, Re-issued 2009)

Non-Album Recordings Part #9: 1966 (EMI)

A) [192] 'Paperback Writer' is, in many ways, a backwards step. There's certainly nothing wrong with the music: this is another of the Beatles' tightest backing tracks (as bootlegs will attest), with a fun guitar riff that growls its way throughout the song, impatiently pushing the narrator on to one more success, one last piece of his legacy. It's unusually bass heavy, too, this single, which adds to the claustrophobia of the song. However, the lyrics aren't McCartney's best: having already poured out his emotions on 'Rubber Soul' and 'Revolver', this is Paul catching on to the first thing that came to hand. As it happened, he'd spent the Beatles' quieter year (by their standards of 1966) helping to found an independent bookshop, the Indica (the sister art gallery was where John later financed an art exhibition of Yoko's, the point where many say they fell in love) and - being Paul - mucked in with moving books and setting out displays (his co-owner was Barry Miles, later his 'ghost-writer' on Paul's book 'Many Years From Now'). His intelligence already pricked by years of being surrounded by the Ashers' extensive library, McCartney found himself in heaven surrounded not just by new books but contemporary books. Naturally his thoughts turned to being a writer himself but fell into a 'song lyric' instead of a novel, taking the form of a letter from a wannabe writer to a big-name publisher (even starting 'sir or madam' at the start). The 'joke' is that we know the narrator isn't going to succeed: he comes across as too needy, too desperate to secure a big time deal - which is a bit of a shame given the 'free love' vibes of this single (and especially the B-side). I've always wondered: The Beatles were always being given things fans had created (they were amongst the most generous bands with their time - Paul especially) and helping to run a 'hip' bookshop in swinging London must have resulted in all kinds of weird manuscripts landing through the door. Is the song a 'spoof' of one of these (perhaps with a dig at Lennon for getting his best-selling book deal simply because he was a 'Beatle'?) Or is this Paul, knowing that his days as a touring Beatle are coming to an end, imagining a new life for himself as an anonymous author? Either way, 'Paperback Writer' is clever, funny, cute song with a great riff - but it's not a Beatles 'A' side. It doesn't help that John and George mockingly sing 'Frere Jacques' behind his lead vocal, like naughty schoolboys (they wouldn't have dared do that to any other Beatles single, which were all far too 'important'!) The public thought so too - yes this song still went to #1 but in both the UK and US it took a long time to get there and sold less copies along the way. Perhaps the band should have saved one of those classic single from late 1965 instead? First released as a single on May 30th 1966. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume Two' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
B) B-side [193]  'Rain', though, is one of my all-time favourite Beatles songs. Like 'Paperback Writer' it sounds hard and tough, quite unlike anything else around at the time (which in this case is achieved by slowing the track down to get a slightly unreal, ethereal air and makes Ringo sound like superman, defying gravity to keep his drum-rolls poised in mid-air). However unlike the 'A' side, there's a fine song to go with the exotic sounds. The theme of 'Rain' is perception, using the metaphor of everyone else staying indoors when it rains and only coming out when the sun is shining (don't worry the rest of the world, it's an English thing). Lennon's take on this is that everyone else is missing out, 'that they might as well be dead' when they stay indoors. But he knows better: he 'tried' staying out in the rain one day and you know what? He loved it. The Whole of Oasis' future sound is built on Lennon's fabulous sneer throughout this song, as he leers into the mike first 'I can show you' and then a snarling 'can you hear me????', Lennon's voice raised in indignation at a Britain too slow to change the way he wants. The song then ends on a 'perfect' accident. reports differ as to whether it was a stoned Lennon lining up his reel-to-reel tape or an effect George Martin showed him in the studio (possibly both), but the decision to have the fade-out sung backwards - a gimmick on any other Beatles song - is so 'right' on this song about altering perceptions and seeing the world from a new angle. John, surely, is singing about drugs (listening to this song is a hallucinogenic experience in itself, even before you get to the backwards part, taking part in slow-motion) but 'Rain' works better than most of Lennon's more OTT drug songs ('Dr Robert' 'Lucy in the Sky') because it's not all that specific: John sings about the fact that he experiences the world differently, not how he experiences it differently. His hypnotic vocal is deeply enticing, though (was this a song aimed at Paul, the one Beatle holding out on his drug experience? It was taped just three songs after McCartney's ode to being desperate to join the party, 'Got To Get You Into My Life'). However this isn't just a tour de force for Lennon - all the Beatles excel on one of their very best backing tracks. George's guitar-part is just the right side of alien, Ringo's drumming is arguably the best in his entire career (it's between this and 'She Said She Said') and best of all Paul's bass-line does exactly what the lyrics demand of it: defying all conventional rules to work the way a guitar line should, weaving in and out of the recording and pretty much ignoring what the drums are up to (the whole point of a bass on a record circa the 1950s). The Beatles at their boldest, daring best and somehow every single experiment they try on this recording works, a real highpoint for the band, shockingly tucked away on the flipside of a lesser single. sdrawkcab retteb dnuos gnihtyreve swonk ydobyreve dna. First released as the B-side of 'Paperback Writer' on May 30th 1966. Find it on: 'Past Masters Volume Two' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
C) As if that wasn't enough, The Beatles went further on 'Tomorrow Never Knows', another Beatle highlight that rounded off 'revolver' in fine style. The first thing tried out for the album (in April 1966, just five months after 'Girl' the last song taped for 'Rubber Soul') the band were truly at the peak of their powers in this period. However you can't get a song that great and that different to sound perfect overnight, so what the Beatles started with isn't quite the same arrangement as the one we know and love from the album. Titled [191b]  'The Void', Anthology Two revealed 'take one' of this song to the world - and the world scratched their head a little. Lennon's original idea had been to hire a bunch of Tibetan monks so we knew other ideas had been discussed - but not this, three minutes of fierce drumming, a loopy mellotron part (probably played by Paul) and lots of ADT on everything. The result is curious to modern ears used to the end product (which this take barely resembles) but it would have made a lot of sense in 1966, a sort of 'hybrid' of the band's usual fare and Lennon's awkward new song which uses the same chord for three full minutes. Many fans quite like it, though they are more that don't - for me it's not a patch on the finished version with all the tape-loops and a sense of urgency this version lacks, but it's still a powerful reading of a tremendous song. The wonder is that The Beatles didn't just leave it at that but returned - just 16 days later - to cut the version we know and love. Tomorrow Never Knows how recordings will be remembered, but I have a feeling that this version would still have created lots of waves back when 'Revolver' came out - if not, perhaps, as many as the final version which is still fairly mind-blowing today. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
D) The Anthology version of [190b] 'Got To Get You Into My Life' is almost as different to the finished 'Revolver' version. Instead of the horns and a driving riff we get folk-rock and a muted, almost pleading tone that comes in several parts all joined up with Ringo's distinctive drumming and a held organ note. The result gives quite a different 'feel' to the song, which is more like The Byrds than the Stax sound of the finished version - less together, more desperate and needy (there's even a brief middle eight, cut from the 'Revolver' master,  with John and George chanting 'I need your love!' and progressing chord by chord till they reach a sky high fever pitch just to hammer the point home). I rather like it - perhaps not quite as much as the finished version but more than enough to make the cut of the final album. Once again The Beatles have tinkered with a great recording in 1966 - and ended up with a masterpiece. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
E) The version of [186b] 'And Your Bird Can Sing' heard on 'Revolver' is also a remake of an even more Byrds-like folk-rocker with chiming Rickenbacker guitars. Far from the urgent sneer of the finished version ('You don't get me!') this version is gentler, bouncier - dare I say it, a little sillier (this cryptic piece only sounds serious thanks to Lennon's towering vocal on the final product). The Beatles were big gigglers (especially in their 'stoned' period 1965-66) and, inevitably, fall apart laughing here. With so much time gone no one (including Paul) can remember what they were laughing at, but it's a proper run of the giggles that runs for half the song and then ends in out-of-tune whistling. Fun as it is to hear (Lennon jokingly says to a probably horrified George Martin 'Take another one? That was it, wasn't it?' at the end, one of the funniest Beatle moments not in a film) I wish Anthology had used the 'straight' version though, available on bootleg, so fans could get a flavour of how this song was supposed to sound - again it's not quite up to the finished version but it's more than good enough to have been passed fit for purpose. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
F) Certainly it makes more sense than the 'Anthology' version of [178b] 'Taxman', which out of its' 2:32 running time features just two separate five brief seconds' difference to the finished product. Where the finished version points the finger at politicians ('Ha ha Mr Wilson, Ha ha Mr Heath - respectively the Prime Minister and opposition in charge of the UK in 1966), this version simply has a garbled 'anybodygotabitofmoney?' in falsetto, sounding oddly like The Who as they do so. The other difference comes right at the end, the song simply closing on a 'dum dum Tax Man!' finale instead of the repeated McCartney guitar solo used earlier in the song. George (probably with Paul's input given how many parts he plays on this record) was probably right to make both changes although neither difference is that great. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
G)  Like its future bedfellows, [180b] 'I'm Only Sleeping' started off a much simpler, folkier song before effects were added to make the song more 'psychedelic'. There are actually two early versions of the song on 'Anthology'. One is a rare 40 second snippet (sadly all that survives' of a 'rehearsal' for the song, never intended to be a 'take' (the band recorded them sometimes to hear how they sounded but - alas - always wiped them straight away; this is to date the only 'rehearsal' tape to slip out). What's fascinating is how different it sounds: someone (Lennon?) plays the main theme on a vibraphone part while George strums away and Ringo taps awkwardly along. Did The Beatles mean to record 'Sleeping' like this? Was it :Lennon's original idea? Or did The Beatles always rehearse using vibraphones? Certainly the instrument is long gone by take one, which is simply John on guitar, Ringo on lightly slapped tom-toms and someone else on tambourine. This version of the song is much jollier and 'normal' than the finished version, but a little empty: if any song cried out for effects and backwards guitar it's this one but the band seem unsure what to do with this song for now. Amazingly the difference between this rough demo-like version and the 'album' version is just nine days and four sessions. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
H) A lovely 'Anthology' take of [182b] Here There and Everywhere was also included, not on 'Anthology Two' where it should have been, but as a throwaway extra on the back of the 'Real Love' single in 1996. By and large the other B-sides on this and 'Free As A Bird' are nice titbits for collectors to swoon over but not really made for essential listening, being made up mainly of live recordings and the 'full' version of the band's 1967 festive fanclub song 'Christmas Time Is Here Again'. However this is the one exception that's well worth tracking down: a delightful early take of McCartney's ballad before the pieces of the puzzle have fully locked together. The harmonies aren't there yet (well, they are at the very end of the song but only thanks to some more unnecessary Anthology-style re-editing) and like the first version of 'And I Love Her' everyone is still playing this song as a noisy electric one despite the fact that's its clearly an intimate acoustic one. Paul's vocal is charming, though, with George navigating the tricky chord changes with ease. One of the better 'mid 60s' Beatle outtakes. Find it on: the single 'Real Love' (1996)
[183b] Yellow Submarine is taken from the same single but apart from a slight re-mix on the sound effects (which now run throughout instead of just the middle) this take is really here to show off a new Anthology find: an opening 15 second speech that The Beatles spent many hours on before discarding. Commemorating Barbara Moore's astonishing 1960 charity walk across the entire United Kingdom (which in typical wordplay, most likely by Lennon, turns into 'From Land O'Groats to John O'Green' - 'Lands End' being the furthest Southern point and John O'Groats the furthest  Northern point). The Beatles, meanwhile, stamp on peas to provide the effects of marching. Did they nick this idea from The Hollies, who were at this very point in time working on their song 'Crusader' from the 'For Certain, Because' album in the studio next door and tried that very effect before discarding it for a rummage through the Abbey Road sound effects library? Find it on: the single 'Real Love' (1996)
H) Following 'Revolver' the band went on hiatus until the end of the year, re-entering Abbey Road in late November. The first version of [194b] 'Strawberry Fields Forever' is what Lennon got up to in his spare time - a hesitant acoustic demo, probably recorded at the house he was renting while filming 'How I Won The War' in Spain with Dick Lester. The demo stops and starts ('I cannae do it') and shows more than ever before how Lennon used to work - feeling his way through a song, line by line (in contrast to Paul, who had a whole song worked out from the first chord). Note the main lyric change: 'Take me back, 'cause I'm going to', which changes the song from one of depression (the original word is 'down') to one of memory. I'm not the biggest fan of 'Strawberry Fields', Lennon's silliest most pretentious song, but it is interesting hearing the whole come together. Take One is, in fact, a big improvement on the finished version: without the switching time signatures this recording almost has a folky feel to it. It's even, dare I say it, rather Moody Blues-ish, which is apt given that the mellotron part Paul plays here was on an instrument on loan from that band's Mike Pinder. Take 7 meanwhile is the one we half-know and love - the first half, anyway, which rapidly turns into a monster drum solo from Ringo (much better than the one from 'The Abbey Road Medley') and Lennon's sarcastic rejoinders ('Alright, calm down Ringo!') George Martin famously changed the speeds of two separate takes of the song so that Lennon could have the 'two halves' he liked best for both songs. Long admired as an editing tour de force, I've never much liked the effect: it just makes Lennon sound drunk, not other-worldly - I actually like this version more, although it's the full take 23 (the 'other half' of the one we all know and love) which is 'Strawberry Fields' at its best - annoyingly it still hasn't been officially released yet! Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
I) Lennon's song, typically, got put together bit by bit, while Paul's early take of [195b] 'Penny Lane' - recorded at the same time - is almost complete. The main difference here is that instead of a trumpet solo we get a treated violin answered by some horns and that the backing vocals aren't quite as complete yet. However, the 'Anthology' version is a 'cheat', with the 'best' parts from multiple takes stuck together to make up a whole that never really existed. I don't know about you but I'd much rather hear a basic version of the song with bits missing than I would a version that sounds similar enough to the finished product to most ears? At least the ending is fun though: more Syd Barrett-style vocal 'noises' and McCartney's goonish comment 'that's a suitable ending I think!' Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)

Non-Album Recordings Part #10: 1967 (EMI)
A) Despite the release of three double-CD outtakes sets, there is still one totally unreleased Beatles song in the archives that has never appeared. [218] 'Carnival Of Light', an avant garde McCartney collage with contributions from the others, was 'commissioned' from Paul by his friend (and bookshop co-owner) Barry Miles for a 'multi-media event' at London's 'hip' Roundhouse Theatre (now owned by the BBC and a second home for Jools Holland's gurning face). The song was taped, in a single five hour session, on January 5th 1967 during 'time off' fro, the early sessions for 'Sgt Peppers'. Like 'Tomorrow Never Knows' and 'Revolution no 9, this piece features random tape loops, splices and shouted comments from all four Beatles and is said to run for nearly 14 minutes (that's six longer than 'Revolution no 9' to put that in context!) The song was never intended for a Beatles album and was left to collect dust until it was re-discovered in McCartney's collection and all set to appear on 'Anthology Two' - partly as a defensive gesture from McCartney that he, not Lennon, was the original 'avant garde Beatle'. George Harrison, however, was embarrassed by it and asked for it to be taken out (to pacify him an instrumental version of his song 'Within You Without You' was hastily added in its place). Paul still threatens to release it from time to time and many bootleggers claim to have 'found' access to it (there are at least half a dozen versions on Youtube', none of them the same). In truth, one of them might be 'real' - without much Beatle participation or anything familiar to music convention, it would be hard to tell. The only thing we can say is that if George allowed 'What's The New Mary Jane' through without comment then 'Carnival Of Light' must be very strange indeed! Find it - nowhere! (For the time being!)
B) Meanwhile, 'real' Beatle work was taking place. The spooky 'Anthology' version of [208b] 'A Day In The Life' is slightly slower and rather more vulnerable sounding, with almost everything where it should be but slightly in the wrong place. The biggest difference is the famous orchestral passage, which isn't here yet - instead Paul stabs away at the piano while good ol' Mal Evans reads out the bar numbers in an increasingly hysterical 'posh' voice. This is clearly a run through (Paul messes up the last line of 'his' section and curses - the first time we hear any of The Beatles swear on tape) - or rather, run throughs, as Anthology have messed about with the sequence of takes yet again, trust me the original is interesting enough without having the 'finished orchestral' part added on -  but it's already surprisingly close to the finished version. The song then ends not with the chord but a chat between Paul and some unspecified other (it sounds to me as if he's being interviewed about the shooting of the orchestral sequence, planned as a music video but abandoned when the track got banned by the BBC). ('The worst thing about doing something like this is that, you know, people get a bit suspicious...') You'd hardly take this rehearsal version over the finished product but it's fun to be a fly-on-the-wall for such a key Beatles moment. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
C) [206b] 'Good Morning, Good Morning', however sounds even better. A song that was screaming out to be recorded raw and simple, this early version is missing the horns and the sound effects, which is a shame, but heard as a primitive rocker 'Good Morning' has even more 'life' about it. Lennon is snarling his vocal a la 'I Am The Walrus', George's guitar is grungy and Paul and Ringo lock grooves to great effect (especially on a lengthy ending where the animal noises should be). The result is, perhaps, the most punk Beatles recording, reduced to a few simple chords and not much else. There are even more terrific versions of this song in the vaults however, included a fabulous one where the horns have been added but Lennon's vocal haven't! Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
D) [219b] 'Only A Northern Song', however, isn't all that different to the version that popped up on the 'Yellow Submarine' soundtrack. George's first song for the 'Sgt Pepper' album, this caustic comment on how nobody is treating his songs seriously (George's publishing company was called Northern Songs') was taped in between 'Fixing A Hole' and 'Mr Kite' before being left to rust for 18 months or so. This is effectively the state the song was in before George added a new vocal, Paul added a trumpet part (!) and the whole thing was remixed. Although less hallucinatory than the finished recording this basic version still sounds pretty fine to me, although where it might have fitted onto 'Sgt Peppers' is anyone's guess. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
E) As we said in our review of 'Peppers', [202b] 'Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite' is a slight song rescued - partly - by a towering production. The Anthology Version (featuring takes 1,2 and 7) is effectively a slight song without much production, just the usual bass, drums and organ and a Lennon vocal treated with lots of echo. Your best bet is to forget the song and listen to how the Beatles re-act to each other: Lennon is full of pride (he corrects Geoff Emerick when he shortens the title to 'The Benefit of Mr Kite'), McCartney is full of ideas ('what we could do is...') and George Martin, desperate for the band's attention, resorts to a funny accent. Again, this early sequence of takes would have been far better without so much retrospective editing going on! Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
F) [198b] 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds', meanwhile, is ever so nearly complete. Only a heavy-handed (guide?) vocal from Lennon (who shouts rather than sings) and a few of the effects aren't here yet but otherwise Lucy already sounds in rude health. Paul gets more of a part to play in the harmonies, which is nice - perhaps they should have kept this arrangement for the final version? Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
G) [207b]  'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band' (Reprise) was a real last-minute rush-job (Paul had a plane booked that night and the song was only hastily written when the band were trying to put together a running order for the album). As a result, I wasn't expecting much from this version - and yet the 'Anthology' take of this slight and simple song is a revelation. Reduced to the bare core, this is a funky rocker rather than the heavily overdubbed theatrical piece on the album driven by hard Ringo drums and guitars that stab rather than float. Paul's vocal is clearly a guide one again - he's barely on the right notes in fact - but even this is full of the excitement and adrenalin of creativity. A lot of fun - maybe Pepper's might have been better if they'd left songs like this and 'Good Morning' alone? Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
H) [220] 'You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)' - released in 1969 as the B-side to final single 'Let It Be' but actually recorded in the middle of 'Magical Mystery Tour' - is one of The Beatles' surrealist moments. A fake nightclub singer (Paul as 'Dennis O' Dell' - it's not actually Ringo as introduced, that's just a sly put down from Lennon), Rolling Stones BRian Jones playing a saxophone solo, Mal Evans shovelling gravel, the title phrase repeated over and over like a mantra - this is either The Beatles' most maddening song or their funniest depending on your sense of humour. The original tape (sadly not yet bootlegged!) apparently run for some brain-crushing 20 minutes. The B-side version runs for 4:19 with the Anthology take extended to 5:43 courtesy of a fun 'ska' section led by Paul which Lennon decided to cut when mixing the song in 1969 (the reason Lennon was doing it was because he wanted the song to be the B-side of a 'Plastic Ono Band' single of 'Mary Jane' - in the end even Apple decided the single was too eccentric for release! EMI simply copied Lennon's mix when they needed a B-side ready to go at the last minute). The result is a fun but rather odd end to The Beatles recorded legacy (at least until 1977 and 'Hollywood Bowl') that shows how much fun you could have if you were a Beatle in 1967 - as well as how many drugs you had to take to get there! Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996) with the shorter version on 'Past Masters Volume Two' (1988, Re-issued 2009)
I) [214b] 'I Am The Walrus' sounds powerful in any version, but the crunching early take on 'Anthology Two' is really something special. With the sound effects, radio play shenanigans, eerie strings and Mike Sammes Singers removed you can hear just how angry and deranged Lennon sounds. The Beatle backing is simply brutal - Ringo's drumheads must have had holes in them by the end of this session, while the combined effect of drums, organ, bass and guitars all with the treble turned low and distortion turned high is more frightening than any Hammer Horror film. Hearing this version really brings the song back to what it originally was - a rant about how Lennon has always been denied his creativity, how his inner world is less messed up and makes more sense than the real one and how everyone in authority who ever tried to keep him in a box is wrong. This is clearly an early take - Lennon comes in on the wrong line for 'Yellow matter custard' and had to correct himself with a quick thinking  'wah-hoo' to get himself back on track - but even so it's amazing how quickly all four Beatles are on the money on a song that breaks every rule in the book. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
J) This final quarter of 'Anthology Two' is my favourite of the entire series with so many of my favourite songs stuck together in great versions. There are two versions of [210b] 'The Fool On The Hill' (split by the version of 'Your Mother Should Know' below): a sweet and simple piano demo featuring just Paul and take 4, a band version featuring a very rough attempt by the other Beatles to join in on their usual instruments (all these years on from 'And I Love Her' and they still haven't learnt!) The demo is the better, a golden three minutes that sounds amazingly complete without all the whirring flutes of the finished version. McCartney does the song this way a lot in concert nowadays yet he's never quite matched the seriousness and sincerity of the version here. Paul hasn't quite got all the words yet (the last verse is entirely missing and he even busks where the flutes will go in the solo!) but 'The Fool On The Hill' already sounds like a beautiful song. Take 4, meanwhile, does feature flutes as well as a rather more out-of-tune McCartney vocal to go with Ringo's ridiculously strict 4/4 rhythm. The lyrics are even closer to the finished version but the first version features a few differences: The man talking perfectly loud has an 'empty mind' rather than 'a thousand voices' and 'no one will go quite near him' instead of 'he never seems to notice'. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
K) [213b] 'Your Mother Should Know' is very rough, however as Paul - 'with ciggie in mouth' as he tells us - sounds even more like a carnival barker than on the finished version. Ringo's military drumming is truly awful (he does hardly anything on the final version) and Paul's heavy handed chords lack the free-flowing movement of the 'MM Tour' version. Paul starts the song with a cheeky spoof of early Beatles patter ('would you like us to do it again, George?') and a different opening: singing the 'let's all get up and...' line twice. All in all 'your mother' sounds in very poor health - perhaps she ought to have a lie down? Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)
L) By contrast [215b] 'Hello Goodbye' is only a smidgeon away from the finished version. All that's missing is the guitar overdubs, a few tweaks in the vocal lines for both Paul and the harmonies and a subtly different part for both George (who plays a fiery duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh' part like machine gun fire) and Ringo (who adds a couple of extra cymbal chinks in his drum roll). Even the coda is heard intact, suggesting that it really was here from the beginning. Sadly Anthology missed out on the chance to release another bootleg favourite: a driving piano-and-drums backing track which is better than it sounds and more like Fats Domino than the 'music hall' of the finished version. Find it on: 'Anthology Two' (1996)

A now complete list of Beatles links available at this website:
'Rubber Soul' (1965)

'Revolver' (1966)
'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band' (1967)

'Magical Mystery Tour' (1967)

'The Beatles' aka 'The White Album' (1968)
'Yellow Submarine' (1969)
The Best Unreleased Beatles Recordings

A Complete AAA Guide To The Beatles Cartoons
The Beatles: Surviving TV Appearances
A 'Bite' Of Beatles Label 'Apple'
The Beatles: Non-Album Songs Part One: 1958-63
 The Beatles: Non-Album Songs Part Two: 1964-67
The Beatles: Non-Album Songs Part Three: 1968-96
The Beatles: Compilations/Live Albums/Rarities Sets Part One: 1962-74
The Beatles: Compilations/Live Albums/Rarities Sets Part Two: 1976-2013
Beatles Bonuses: The Songs John and Paul Gave Away To The World/To Ringo!

Essay: The Ways In Which The Beatles Changed The World For The Better
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions

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