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Monday, April 29, 2013

SESSIONS - side two

The back cover of the proposed album
How Do You Do It -This is the song that producer George Martin chose for the group's first single.  The boys actually do a fine job with this piece of fluff, John singing lead.  To Martin's everlasting credit, he let them release their own composition Love Me Do instead.  Just about any other producer would have insisted on issuing this track, probably resulting in a few modest hits and quick oblivion for the Beatles.

Besame Mucho - At their audition for Parlophone in June of 1962, the boys recorded this rousing version of the well-known standard with Paul singing lead.  And, of course, Pete Best was on drums at this point in time.

One After 909 - After recording both sides of their third single on March 5th, 1963, the group concentrated on this early Lennon composition.  Not satisfied with the result, they shelved the song for six years, not returning to it until the Get Back sessions.  Though the uptempo version they played during the famous rooftop concert is preferable, it is fun to listen to this attempt.

If You've Got Trouble - This number was penned by Lennon and McCartney for Ringo to sing on the Help! album.  It is a train wreck in almost every respect, from the inane lyric to the clunky rhythm track.  The highlight is easily Ringo's exclamation, "Aw, rock on, anybody!" before a particularly uninspired guitar solo by George.

That Means A Lot - This intriguing composition by McCartney also dates from the Help! sessions.  It borrows elements used in Ticket To Ride, which was recorded only five days earlier - specifically, the lopsided drum pattern and a catchy, energetic coda.   In The Beatles: Recording Sessions Mark Lewisohn reports that they re-made it a month after this version, but were still unhappy with the results.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps - This is George's stunning demo of his brilliant composition from the "White Album."  Only George's heartfelt vocal, his acoustic guitar and an organ part entering near the end make up this incredible performance, which includes a verse that was dropped before the final version released by the group.

Mailman Bring Me No More Blues - A Buddy Holly tune covered by the Beatles during the Get Back sessions.  They played many of their favorite oldies at this time, but few were as complete as this one.

Christmas Time (Is Here Again) - This amusing and simple ditty is credited to all four Beatles.  It was recorded for the 1967 version of their annual flexi-disc sent exclusively to members of their fan club.  George Martin and actor Victor Spinetti join in the fun.

As you can probably tell from the jacket cover and liner notes, this collection was mastered and ready for release before Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko prevented it from being issued.  Of course, the master was easily bootlegged and copies soon appeared.  It would be ten years before the much more extensive Anthology became a reality.

Friday, April 5, 2013

SESSIONS - side one

Like the Glyn Johns versions of Get Back, this was a proposed album that never saw the light of day - not officially, at any rate.  In 1985, as the surviving Beatles and Yoko Ono were negotiating with EMI over the transfer of the group's catalog to the new CD format, this intriguing collection of rare material and alternate takes was compiled and prepared for release.  According to a press release from the time, the main dissenter was McCartney, his reasons unclear, but perhaps the ongoing negotiations and the sense that something larger was possible (the eventual Anthology series) were the main issues.

Every track on this album made its way onto the Anthology in one form or another, highlighting just how spot on the powers that be were in making these selections.


Come and Get It - This is Paul's demo of a song he wrote for the Apple band Badfinger, which would serve as both that band's first single and a soundtrack song for the film The Magic Christian starring Peter Sellers and Ringo.  Paul knocked this off one day in 1969 during sessions for Abbey Road and later produced Badfinger's almost note-by-note recreation of this demo.

Leave My Kitten Alone - Arguably the best recording not issued by the group during their career.  This scorching rocker was recorded during the Beatles for Sale sessions in 1964, and no satisfactory argument has ever been presented as to why it was left off of that album.  Had this album been released, this song was also slated to appear as a single backed with an alternate take of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. 

Not Guilty - George's first offering for the "White Album" was left off of that record, presumably because a few references in the lyrics to the internal strife developing within the group were not well-received by the other Beatles.  If that is true, it is a sad excuse for omitting such a fine song and such a tremendous performance by the band.  This song also has the distinction of requiring more takes (102) than any other in the group's history. 

I'm Looking Through You - This is an alternate take of the McCartney tune from Rubber Soul.  It primarily features handclaps, acoustic guitar, drums, organ and an electric guitar solo in a very different arrangement from the released version.  At this point, it also lacks the superb bridge.

What's the New Mary Jane - Those who believe that songs such as Wild Honey Pie, Mr. Moonlight or Revolution 9 are the worst ever put on tape by the Beatles have obviously never heard this piece of dreck from the "White Album" sessions.  Even though the usual Lennon wit and wordplay is on display in the few verses, the track quickly devolves into a free for all with little or nothing to recommend it.  Only John, George, Yoko and Mal Evans participated in this masturbatory nonsense.  After six minutes, John's remark "Let's hear it, before they take us away" pretty much sums it up.