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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ANTHOLOGY 2 - side six

I Am the Walrus - On September 5th, 1967, the group returned to the studio for the first time following Brian Epstein's death and recorded the basic track of this Lennon composition.  This is that backing track - take 16 - plus John's haunting lead vocal from the next day's session, and it is a stunner.  It is as bare bones as possible, featuring only drums, tambourine, electric piano and guitar, but even without producer George Martin's orchestration, the Mike Sammes Singers and the BBC radio performance of King Lear, it is every bit as mesmerizing as the finished master.

The Fool on the Hill (Demo) - Paul recorded this demo alone at the piano.  Melodically, the song is already complete, but the lyrics are far from it.  He opens the song with a musical variation of the "world spinning round" phrase, a nice touch which he dropped before the final version.

Your Mother Should Know - The group had already recorded the basic track of this tune a month or so earlier when Paul decided to do this remake.  It features the composer on harmonium and Ringo playing a military-style beat throughout.  Paul ultimately thought better of it and returned to the original version as the basis for the master.

The Fool on the Hill (Take 4) - This is a proper recording of the song with overdubs (one of them being Paul playing the recorder), though the lyrics are still a work-in-progress.  The interesting opening musical phrase is also still present, but this version would be scrapped and the entire song remade a day later.

Hello, Goodbye - Here is one of those Anthology creations combining multiple takes in a way that was never intended by the Beatles themselves.  Though we are able to hear portions of the song differently than we usually hear them, it is not that interesting to me except for George's very active guitar part, much of which was edited out of the master.

Lady Madonna - The same approach is taken with the early 1968 single, although there are not nearly as many layers of sound on this recording.  We do get a little extra bit of saxophone at the end of the number, as well as a final, hearty "Lady Madonna" from either Paul or John.

Across the Universe - The sessions that produced Lady Madonna also yielded this gorgeous Lennon number, though never quite to the composer's satisfaction.  This is take 2, which I feel is superior to either of the officially released versions - one produced by George Martin, the other by Phil Spector - in that it captures the gentle, ethereal quality of the song far better.  It features George on sitar and numerous other acoustic stringed instruments (is one of them an autoharp?) as well as some simple percussion.  The song is a difficult one to sing, and John is often running out of breath as he learns how to phrase it.  Had the group continued with this arrangement, Lennon might have been better pleased with the result.  

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