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Friday, December 20, 2013

ANTHOLOGY 1 - side five

On the set of Around the Beatles
In the first half of 1964, the Beatles maintained their hectic pace.  First up was the completely unexpected conquest of America, quickly followed by the demands of making a feature film and its accompanying soundtrack album.  Before they even had time to catch their breath, they starred in their own television special and set off on their first world tour.  Despite this barrage of projects, they began to get more comfortable during their still-infrequent studio sessions, taking a little more time to craft a song in the recording process if necessary.

All My Loving - The voice of Ed Sullivan opens this side with his introduction, "Ladies and gentlemen - the Beatles!"  Screams erupt from the studio audience and Paul counts the band in for a performance of this uptempo number from With the Beatles, or Meet the Beatles as the corresponding album was titled in America.  73 million viewers tuned in, instantly making this a watershed moment in television history.

You Can't Do That - John counts the boys in for take 6 of a song he wrote for the soundtrack of A Hard Day's Night.  They did perform it in the concert sequence of the film, but it was edited out of the final print.  On this take, all of the elements are already in place, including John's lead guitar solo.  Without Paul and George's backing vocals, however, he sounds positively flat on the words "green" and "seen" in the bridge.

And I Love Her -Take 2 of Paul's ballad for the soundtrack features Ringo on his full drum kit and George picking an electric guitar.  Paul also had yet to write the bridge (A love like ours...) at this point.  There would be not just one but two remakes over the next two days before they perfected the arrangement on take 21 with Ringo on bongos and claves and George playing a simple but beautiful part on acoustic guitar.

A Hard Day's Night - Take 1 of the film's title track has all the earmarks of a song hastily written, hastily rehearsed and hastily recorded.  George's opening guitar chord clangs instead of resonating, the guide vocals by John and Paul are sloppy and they laugh as the fadeout fizzles.  Incredibly, in only a few short hours, their next single was completed by producer George Martin's piano overdub onto take 9.

I Wanna Be Your Man - This is the first of four selections from the television special Around the Beatles.  The group recorded the music for the program on April 19th, 1964 on three-track tape and only mimed their performance in front of the studio audience days later.  This number was Ringo's most recent vocal outing from the album With the Beatles.

Long Tall Sally - The group had recently recorded this Little Richard screamer during the sessions for the film soundtrack, and it was currently being issued in the US on The Beatles' Second Album.  Fans in the UK would have to wait until June 19th, when it would appear as the title track of an EP.  This TV version is not quite as breathtaking as that one-take recording.  It also lacks George Martin's piano part.

Boys - For some reason, they also taped Ringo's lead vocal number from Please Please Me, but decided not to use it on the program. 

Shout - This precursor to the Isley Brothers' other hit Twist and Shout is an absolute delight.  All four Beatles take turns singing lead on this barn-burner, driving the crowd into a frenzy.  The performance is truncated by half a minute here on the Anthology, but you can find the whole number on YouTube, including John's sign-off, "You've got a lucky face.  The end."

I'll Be Back (Demo) - With the film complete, the group returned to the studio on June 1st to begin recording a new batch of songs for the non-soundtrack side of the album.  John originally wanted this dramatic number to be in waltz time but, as we hear him say here after take 2 breaks down, "It's too hard to sing."

I'll Be Back (Complete) - On this very next take, played in 4/4 time, the song suddenly works.  It would require a total of sixteen takes before they achieved the version that closes the album, but they already knew that they were on the right track.

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