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Thursday, February 5, 2015

ANTHOLOGY 3 - side six

Something - The final demo done by George on February 25th, 1969 was the simplest, as he accompanied himself on electric guitar and sang his greatest composition.  He had some additional lyrics at this point which he ultimately dropped and replaced with his sensational guitar solo on the Beatles' sublime master version.

Come Together - By now, you probably know that the boys delivered many outstanding first takes over the years.  This one is yet another fine example.  Ringo, Paul and George have already found the smokey groove that this Lennon composition required, as John provides handclaps, occasional tambourine and a growling guide vocal until his voice cracks and he mangles a few lyrics.  And without the heavy echo of the master version, we clearly hear his eerily-prophetic "Shoot me" before each verse.

Come and Get It - Paul arrived at the studio ahead of the other Beatles (something he often did since he lived closest) and recorded this demo in one hour, including a double-tracked vocal, maracas, drums, piano and bass.  Only days later, he produced an almost note-for-note version of the song for Apple group Badfinger, thus giving them their first hit for the soundtrack of the Peter Sellers-Ringo Starr film The Magic Christian.

Ain't She Sweet - On July 24th, 1969, the same date as Paul's demo, the Beatles worked on the basic track of Sun King/Mean Mr. Mustard, two conjoined Lennon songs for the album's big medley.  Between takes, they slipped into a jam of this tune which they had recorded with Pete Best on drums back in their pre-fame days in Hamburg.  The key is a bit high for John, whose voice cracks throughout, but George's guitar work is sublime, and the mellow arrangement is a marked contrast to their earlier German beer hall version.

Because - After giving us all-instrumental versions of Eleanor Rigby and Within You Without You, the Anthology now presents an all-vocal variation of this simple, gorgeous Lennon composition.  John, Paul and George spent many hours over two days perfecting their three-part harmonies under the tutelage of producer George Martin.  He recorded them three times over, resulting in nine heavenly voices for the finished product.

Let It Be - While it makes some sense to place this McCartney hymn near the end of the series - after all, it was the group's last single and the title track of the final album to be released - this early take really belongs with the rest of the Get Back selections.  Paul seems to be introducing this song on January 25th, though the others soon join in, with John and George providing some nice backing vocals.  For no apparent reason, the Anthology tops and tails this take with remarks from John made on the 31st.

I Me Mine - On the other hand, this short ditty from Harrison absolutely belongs here.  It was the last new song to be recorded by the Beatles, though John had quit the group months earlier and was not present.  George, Paul and Ringo spent January 3rd, 1970 in the studio working on this tune so it could be included in the second attempt by Glyn Johns to create a Get Back album.  Months later, Phil Spector extended the song by repeating the chorus and second verse, then overdubbed an orchestra and choir onto the track.

The End - The only choice to bring this exhaustive collection to its logical conclusion is this closing piece from the Abbey Road medley.  The track picks up at the point of Ringo's drum solo, which we now hear wasn't actually a solo at all, as guitars (later deleted) continue to squawk around his steady beat.  Then a jump is made straight into the guitar duel, followed by the cosmic couplet and an enhanced version of the orchestra's grand finale.

But wait!  There's more!  (And I swear I even predicted this before hearing it for the very first time - though not in this exact form.)  Out of the silence, a sound grows: it is the final E major piano chord from A Day in the Life played backwards, getting louder and louder until the actual moment that John, Paul, Ringo and assistant Mal Evans struck the keys simultaneously.  The sound then fades as it normally did at the end of Sgt. Pepper. 

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