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Tuesday, May 7, 2013


The job of assembling all of the Beatles non-album tracks for release on CD was handed to a fellow by the name of Mark Lewisohn.  In the mid-1980's, Lewisohn had been granted unprecedented access to the vaults at Abbey Road Studios and had listened to every known take of every song officially recorded by the group in order to prepare his astonishing book The Beatles: Recording Sessions.  Though there are many experts when it comes to the career of the Fab Four, none can match Lewisohn for his exhaustive first-hand research.  Indeed, much of my second-hand knowledge comes from his book and his insightful liner notes, especially those on the Anthology series.

Thirty-three tracks were selected by Lewisohn - enough to stretch over two CDs.  And though, as usual, die-hard fans could quibble over a few omissions, Past Masters Volumes One and Two quickly became as indispensable as the albums they were designed to accompany.

Love Me Do - The group's very first single featured this version, recorded on September 4th, 1962 with Ringo on drums.  For the album Please Please Me, it was replaced by the September 11th version with Andy White on drums and Ringo on tambourine.  In the US, this original recording had only appeared in 1980 on the Capitol album Rarities.

From Me to You - The third single, recorded on March 5th, 1963 - the first unqualified number one.

Thank You, Girl - The B-side of that single, recorded on the same day.

She Loves You - The fourth single, which ushered in Beatlemania.  It was also their biggest seller in the UK during their career.

I'll Get You - The fourth B-side, recorded on July 1st, 1963, the same day as She Loves You.  Oddly, the number of takes for these two songs is undocumented - a rare omission for the Abbey Road staff.

I Want to Hold Your Hand - The fifth UK single and the one that conquered America.  It was the first song to be recorded on four-track tape, all earlier material having been recorded on two tracks.  Starting with this song, everything on the rest of the CD is stereo, even though, as I stated in reference to the albums in my previous post, producer George Martin and the Beatles only cared about the mono mixes up through Get Back in 1969.

This Boy - The flip side of that single is also the first truly great B-side released by the group.

Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand - The German version of I Want to Hold Your Hand featured new vocals and handclaps over the original four-track tape.  It was produced at the request of EMI's Odeon label in West Germany.

Sie Liebt Dich - The German version of She Loves You was a complete remake.  Both were recorded at EMI's Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris on January 29th, 1964.  They also laid down the basic track for Can't Buy Me Love on this date.  This marked the only time that the Beatles made a record as a group outside of England during their career.

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