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Monday, October 28, 2013

ANTHOLOGY 1 - side one

As ambitious as Live at the BBC had been, it was dwarfed by the Anthology series.  Neil Aspinall, a fellow Liverpudlian and the group's early road manager, had envisioned such a project for many years.  It finally came to fruition in 1995 with a sprawling documentary and this equally vast series of unreleased recordings and alternate takes, many of which had been available as bootlegs for decades.  The first double CD, Anthology 1, was issued on November 21, only days after the documentary made its television debut.

As usual, I will present the tracks as they were released on vinyl.  Since there are three records for each double CD, this will be the first of eighteen entries covering the Anthology - not to mention the two EPs containing the "new" songs and some additional material.

Free As a Bird - The series opens with the first new recording featuring all four Beatles since the break-up.  This song was also released as a single and on an EP, so I will discuss it in a later entry.

Speech: John Lennon - In a brief audio clip from the famous Lennon Remembers interview with Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner in 1970, John flatly states that the Beatles were simply a band that made it very big.

That'll Be the Day - The only Buddy Holly song that the group ever released during their career was Words of Love on 1964's Beatles for Sale, but proof that the early rock and roller was a seminal influence is presented here as the Quarry Men pooled their money to make their very first recording in 1958.  A 78rpm record was cut featuring John on lead vocal and guitar, Paul providing both harmony and backing vocals and guitar, plus George on guitar, John Lowe on piano and Colin Hanton on drums.

In Spite of All the Danger - For the B-side of that single, John and Paul assume the same vocal duties, though this composition was written by McCartney and Harrison, a unique songwriting credit demonstrating that even at this early stage the core members of the group had great aspirations.

Speech: Paul McCartney - In a 1994 interview, Paul tells Mark Lewisohn that the boys used to use a tape recorder in their pre-fame days to listen to themselves, and that "a couple of those (tapes) still exist." 

Hallelujah, I Love Her So - And Hallelujah, here are three of those recordings.  Paul leads John, George and Stuart Sutcliffe in a rousing rendition of this Ray Charles number sometime around 1960.  Sadly, we do not get the full performance as it fades both in and out.

You'll Be Mine - This one is an original credited to McCartney and Lennon in the style of the Ink Spots according to the liner notes.  Paul sings lead with John adding a falsetto backing and literally grabbing the microphone for an outrageous spoken section in the middle.  I realize they were young men in another era when this recording was made, but I don't think I am the only person who has ever felt uncomfortable with the racist overtones of this performance.

Cayenne - An instrumental credited to McCartney.  Again, we do not get the full performance, but we hear enough of what was a popular genre at the time.  The liner notes indicate that these tapes are the only known recordings made with Sutcliffe as a member of the group. 

Speech: Paul McCartney - In an early interview from 1962, Paul reflects back one full year to the Hamburg sessions with producer Bert Kaempfert and headliner Tony Sheridan.

My Bonnie - Fade in to the song that Liverpool fans asked for in Brian Epstein's record shop, leading to...well, you know the rest.  John, Paul, George and Pete Best backed Sheridan on a number of tracks, including this rocked up version of an old standard.

Ain't She Sweet - At these same sessions, the Beatles were allowed to lay down two tracks of their own.  John gets to deliver a growling lead vocal on another old standard given the rock 'n' roll treatment.  Once the Beatles conquered America, this was released as a single on Atco Records and my mother actually found it and bought it for me.  Ain't she sweet, indeed.

Cry for a Shadow - For their second solo track, the boys laid down this instrumental (though Paul can clearly be heard screaming throughout).  And we have yet another unique composer credit - Harrison and Lennon.

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