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Friday, November 15, 2013

ANTHOLOGY 1 - side three

Though they felt as if they had struggled for many years, the fact is that the Beatles were still very young when success came along.  The youngest member of the group, George, was only twenty and the oldest Beatle was also the newest, Ringo, a grizzled twenty-three years old.  They came seemingly out of nowhere and skyrocketed to worldwide fame as few have ever done, yet they never let the madness that surrounded them keep them from developing their craft at a remarkable pace, as evidenced even in these earliest recordings.

Please Please Me - One week after their first official recording session in September of 1962, producer George Martin summoned the boys back to the studio to re-record both sides of their first single with session drummer Andy White.  Though Ringo was surely disheartened by this turn of events, the work was quickly accomplished and there was enough time left over to attempt a third recording.  With White still on drums and John's harmonica noticeably absent, they laid down what amounted to a demo of the song that would ultimately be their second single.

One After 909 (False Starts) - This is the first example of something that I feel the Anthology series does very well - show the development of a song over a number of takes.  In this case, the song does not change, however, it simply breaks down a few times - once because Paul is playing without a pick and a second time because John comes in vocally before the guitar solo is over.

One After 909 - We then get an edited version of what the song would have sounded like had they completed it on this day - March 5th, 1963 - after recording both sides of their third single.  They did not return to this song until the Get Back sessions in 1969, giving a definitive performance during the rooftop concert.  This much earlier recording is played at a slower tempo and, of course, lacks Billy Preston's fine work on electric piano.

Lend Me Your Comb - A number from a July 1963 Pop Go the Beatles BBC session is inexplicably dropped into the sequence here.  This tune, once done by Carl Perkins, features a duet by Paul and John, except in the bridge where Paul sings solo.

I'll Get You - Here is part of the October 1963 appearance on the television show Sunday Night at the London Palladium that resulted in full-scale Beatlemania in Britain.  The boys perform the B-side of their fourth single, prompting handclaps from the audience at the outset.

Speech: John - In the Lennon Remembers interview, John maintains that in the early years the Beatles were a great live band and "there was nobody to touch us in Britain."  This audio clip sets up the next five selections from the group's live set for Swedish radio on October 24th, 1963.

I Saw Her Standing There - The boys launch into a raw version of their opening number from the album Please Please Me.

From Me to You - Paul introduces the A-side of their third single to the delight of the Stockholm audience.  John does not attempt to play his harmonica part live.

Money (That's What I Want) - They then choose to perform three numbers from their second album With the Beatles, which would not be released until November.  The boys give their all on this hard rocker, though they miss George Martin's piano line from the recording.

You Really Got a Hold on Me -Though all three of these as-yet-unreleased songs were covers of American rock and roll (this one by Smokey Robinson), they must have been relatively unfamiliar to the Swedish audience, which becomes rather subdued as a result.

Roll Over Beethoven - George and the band perform a smoking version of the Chuck Berry classic, though they omit one verse.  They also make a few variations from their own recent recording, especially when John and Paul join in vocally at the end.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

ANTHOLOGY 1 - side two

The role of Pete Best in the development of the Beatles should not be taken lightly.  He was part of the group during their seminal Hamburg phase when they really honed their craft.  Upon their return to Liverpool, people were bowled over by how powerful and professional the group had become.  Pete's appearance on several of the tracks on Anthology 1 in 1995 finally gave him the payday he so richly deserved.  He travels the world to this day with the Pete Best Band and has a loyal following on Facebook and Twitter, even though he is often overlooked as being one of three surviving Beatles.

Speech: John - Lennon waxes nostalgic about manager Brian Epstein in a 1971 interview.

Speech: Brian Epstein - By 1964, Epstein had already written his autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise, and had begun working on a recorded version of it.  This excerpt introduces five selections from the group's famous Decca Records audition on January 1st, 1962.

Searchin' - Paul leads John and George in a Lieber and Stoller number originally done by the Coasters.  The nerves can clearly be heard in a few of George's guitar solos on these tracks.

Three Cool Cats - Another Lieber and Stoller number also done by the Coasters, but with George taking the lead this time.  Paul and John back him both ably and comically.  

The Sheik of Araby - Epstein had hand-picked the group's material for this all-important audition, wanting to demonstrate their versatility.  This comic treatment of an old standard once again has George handling the lead, with John and Paul throwing in the "not 'arf" bits.

Like Dreamers Do - To further impress the Decca brass, Epstein let the boys do a few of their self-penned tunes.  This uptempo one by McCartney features a complex intro and a breathless vocal by the composer.

Hello Little Girl - Lennon claimed that this was the first song he ever wrote, and it shows.  It's very telling that they chose to never record material this lightweight once they finally did get a contract with EMI.

Speech: Brian Epstein - Epstein recounts the group's disappointment with the rejection by Decca, then quickly moves on to his first meeting with Parlophone producer George Martin.

Besame Mucho - Paul sings this old standard at the June 6, 1962 audition/first session at Abbey Road Studios.

Love Me Do - The group also recorded this McCartney composition at that session.  Pete's drumming is all over the place, with numerous changes in style and tempo.  This may be the performance that sealed his fate.

How Do You Do It - On September 4th, with Ringo now in the fold, the Beatles recorded this tune which George Martin had chosen for their first single.  Though they wanted to record only their own material, they took the time to come up with a new arrangement for this song, which was eventually used by another Epstein-managed group from Liverpool - Gerry and the Pacemakers.