Some Beatles demos/alternate takes/sessions to feast your ears on…

Taken in the Austrian Alps - made me smile :-) !

Taken in the Austrian Alps – made me smile 🙂 !

 

 Recently – whilst completing a science assignment – I decided to stop listening to Rubber Soul for the third time in a row (I still love it dearly, but I didn’t want to get sick of it – I’d debate whether that’s possible, though 🙂 …) and do some YouTubing as a means of finding something new to listen to (I don’t buy much music on iTunes – prefer it on vinyl). And under my ‘recommended videos’ thing(y) was a video containing a compilation of Magical Mystery Tour/White Album era demos. I gave it a listen, and then I found even more of these videos under ‘suggested videos’! So yeah, it did take two nights to finish my science, but I found a really cool idea for a post! I absolutely love listening to Beatles demos – I feel a little special, hearing a completely different (and often rare) version of such familiar songs that I know and love dearly. Obviously, though, not all such recordings are rare – as we all know, the Anthology project made some of these relatively well-known. So this post pays homage to those bits and pieces John, Paul, George and Ringo may or may not have wanted us to hear – enjoy!

‘The Beatles’ Home Demos: A Hard Day’s Night and Rubber Soul

‘If I Fell’: Crappy sound quality, but that is the case with most home demos (due to primitive recording equipment). I like this version, and it proves that John was good with falsetto notes, even in the early Beatles days.

‘World Without Love’: Funnily enough, my local classic hits station (what else would I listen to? Actually, I might listen to Triple J – the local indie rock station – at some point, ‘cos I like that sort of thing too) plays the Peter and Gordon version of this song all the time, but it took me a good year-and-a-half of Beatles fandom to work out it was a Lennon/McCartney (namely, McCartney) composition! Yeah – of course I knew that most (if not all) of Peter and Gordon’s songs were written by Paul ‘cos Peter was Peter Asher (Jane Asher’s brother) – but I cannot believe I did not clue on earlier. I like this version more than the original, I have to say – probably because Paul’s singing it… 🙂

‘One And One Is Two’: Never heard this song before, but it’s groovy! I like the way Paul sings it…

‘We Can Work It Out’: Ahh – back to actual Beatles songs again! I really like the folksiness of the original, but this version is still folky and still really cool. In fact, the official version of this was just on the radio (spooky!)…

‘She Said, She Said’

Although I am forever saying that I do not have one favourite Beatles song (if an ever-changing list of about 100 tunes counts, well I do), I would cite this one as top dog if my life depended on it. As I said in my ‘Favourite Beatles Song’ post, I love this song, so I find the above very, very cool! Two completely different versions from the psychedelic masterpiece that ended Side One of my favourite Beatles album (Revolver)!

Demo One: This could not sound more different than the original, but I still love it! John was still clearly working on the lyrics (He said//I know what it’s like to be dead…), and Paul appears to be with John at the time (hence dialogue at end). Writing session at Kenwood, perhaps?

Demo Two: This is my favourite out of the two. John had mostly completed the lyrics by this point, and appears to practising it. I love how the acoustic guitar sounds so trippy, even though it likely hasn’t been edited – John had a semi-acoustic (meaning he can amp it up – I, too, have one), so I wonder if he put a pedal on it, or something? I’d love to know what he put on it, if he did anything… Oh, and there is a little bit of language in this bit – such things don’t bother me in the slightest, but just thought I should cover myself.

‘Revolution’

Wow – those people who think that John is no good as a guitarist need to listen to this! That riff at the beginning is incredibly hard to play – and I should know, ‘cos I play guitar myself! And I love John’s vocals in this, too – need I say more?

‘Something’

‘Something in the way she moves//attracts me like a pomegranate!’ Ha, ha 🙂 – need I say more? Also, George and John making up more of those random lyrics…in need for another smiley 🙂 !

Oh, and I didn’t know George could sing like that! Wow, George, wow! Normally, his anyway-gorgeous voice is quite smooth and sweet, but on this, he rocks really hard! And of course, I love this song anyway – in fact, it was this that taught me that George wrote songs, too…

A Random Bloopers Reel

This one – unlike the clips above – is a medley of all sorts of bloopers, in no kind of order whatsoever. It’s very funny, though – lots of laughing (pity a certain version of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ ain’t on there) and jokes 🙂 ! Oh, and I s’pose I should cover myself over usage of ‘language’, too – it’s mostly from Paul (naughty Paul 🙂 !)!

‘You Can’t Do That’/’Love Me Do’/’Gimme Some Truth’/’She Said, She Said’ (Get Back sessions)

Not all of the Get Back sessions were shown in Let It Be. ‘Of course they weren’t,’ you’re probably thinking. ‘Otherwise we’d have proper of footage of George leaving the band, and we’d probably also have footage of Yoko screaming sufficient enough to make us deaf.’ Well, yeah – you’re right – but what many people don’t know is that The Beatles recorded a lot more material than first apparent within that period of time – whether that be alternate versions of past songs, or the beginnings of songs that will eventually end up on solo albums. The songs I chose to post were swamped-down versions of ‘You Can’t Do That’ and ‘Love Me Do’, that sound so damn cool (!), a version of ‘Gimme Some Truth’, a song that would appear on John’s 1971 masterpiece Imagine, and that song I keep on rambling about – ‘She Said, She Said’ (+ a version of ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window), the Get Back edition. Apparently they also did ‘Norwegian Wood’ – can’t find it, though… 😦

‘I’m So Tired’…sung by Paul! Oh, and ‘Get Back’/’Yesterday’…sung by John!

Yep, I’m serious; Paul is singing a song off the White Album, which – I might add – was written about Yoko. Paul singing a love song for Yoko – hmm. As I’ve said before, I really like Yoko (excepting the screaming) and have tremendous respect for her, but we all know that Paul did not feel the same way… But anyway (who he is singing about aside), his version is really quite good. In fact, it’s really good – gives John a run for his money. At the end of the day, though, John wins for me 🙂 ! As for ‘Get Back’ – oh my God! This might just be my favourite version of this song – especially love the tempo, John’s voice and Ringo’s fills. When I listened to this to test its eligibility for this post, all I could do was stomp my foot, clap along, dance and air-guitar along – that is all I need to say… And ‘Yesterday’ – John fooling about with a famously-Paul-only song. Sure, all the Macca Maniacs will not like it at all, but I think it’s funny! By the way, videos one & two are from Get Back, too.

‘Cry Baby Cry’

As I repeatedly state in various places on this blog, my favourite Beatles songs change from day to day. But ‘Cry Baby Cry’ is a bit like ‘She Said, She Said’ – it always remains somewhat near (if not at) the top of my list. In fact, it was the first song I played on my steel-stringed guitar, and I can still remember listening to it for the first time earlier this year, and being completely blown away. I especially love the almost proto-metal electric-guitar version near the end, with John screaming out the vocals in a, well, proto-metal-type way – a complete contrast to the folky official version (which I still love). Sounds really cool however it is played, let’s just say!

‘Yes It Is’

a) ‘One, two, three, bread.’ Deserves a smiley, Johnny 🙂 ! Next time I have to do a count-in, I know what I’m going to do…

b) I know I posted the Anthology version of this song (a mash-up of takes 2 & 14) in an earlier post, but here is the complete evolution of that Beatles song that everyone sadly forgets (except those who know it, of course). I love this song (okay – I love every Beatles song, with the exception of ‘Revolution 9’ and ‘Wild Honey Pie’ – which I appreciate at the very least), so I find this absolutely fab!

‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’

‘You cheat, tangerinetrees99,’ you’re probably thinking. ‘That’s not rare at all! It’s off blooming Anthology!’ Yes, and I am well aware of that, but I really wanted it in this post. And it is an alternate version of the official, after all, isn’t it? But anyway, I swear I heard this version of ‘WMGGW’ far before I heard the White Album edition. In fact, I prefer this to the Eric Clapton guitar-god version everyone knows. I love everything about this demo – the acoustic-ness of the whole thing, the fact it is in G minor (as opposed to A minor), just – well – everything! Thank you, George, for recording such a gorgeous version of this song.

Paul sings John a very sweet tribute

Aww! How sweet of Paul? I like his versions, too – I also like what he said before he started… I won’t say too much about this one, apart from the fact that it made me a little emotional – you’ll have to watch it yourself… 🙂

So there we have it – an incredibly long post (I’ll try and be shorter next week), but I hope it was all worth it. Enjoy listening to things you may or may not have heard before – but nonetheless (whether you’ve heard them or not), it’ll make for a fab listening marathon! Hope you have a good rest of your day (whichever hemisphere you’re in), and I’ll leave you with this really funny clip of 1965 Christmas record outtakes, which I guarantee will have you hysterically laughing by the minute-mark (excusing one or two grotty jokes, that might or might not bother you – I’m in the latter, so just covering myself again… Still, it is really funny!)! Good day sunshine 🙂

 

Six Ways The Beatles Changed The World

Do not ask me what they are doing with that plastic sheet, but they look cute, and that is all! :-)

Do not ask me what they are doing with that plastic sheet, but they look cute, and that is all! 🙂

Everyone knows that without John, Paul, George and Ringo, the world would be a very different place – but how many people really know how they changed the course of pop-culture? Today, I thought I’d do a post on how those four lads made the world into what it is today, following on from a speech I wrote for a Public Speaking unit in English earlier this year. So, take a plunge into the Beatles ‘revolution’ (cue crunchy overdriven guitars), and enjoy!

6. Guitar Feedback Usage

Take a listen to the above song (the music clip was filmed in late 1965, by the way) – in particular, that noise at the start, just before that infamous riff begins. That ‘noise’ at the start is called ‘feedback’, and is created by plucking a guitar too close to its amp. Feedback was used a lot in the late-1960s/1970s by artists such as The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground and The Grateful Dead. But guess who the first artist(s) to use such a thing was (were)? The Beatles, of course! Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about the innovation:

“I Feel Fine” starts with a single, percussive (yet pure-sounding) feedback note produced by plucking the A string on Lennon’s guitar. This was the very first use of feedback preceding a song on a rock record. According to McCartney, “John had a semi-acoustic Gibson guitar. It had a pickup on it so it could be amplified . . . We were just about to walk away to listen to a take when John leaned his guitar against the amp. I can still see him doing it . . . it went, ‘Nnnnnnwahhhhh!” And we went, ‘What’s that? Voodoo!’ ‘No, it’s feedback.’ Wow, it’s a great sound!’ George Martin was there so we said, ‘Can we have that on the record?’ ‘Well, I suppose we could, we could edit it on the front.’ It was a found object, an accident caused by leaning the guitar against the amp.”[3] Although it sounded very much like an electric guitar, Lennon actually played the riff on an acoustic-electric guitar (a Gibson model J-160E),[8] employing the guitar’s onboard pickup.

Later, Lennon was very proud of this sonic experimentation. In one of his last interviews, he said, “I defy anybody to find a record… unless it is some old blues record from 1922… that uses feedback that way. So I claim it for the Beatles. Before Hendrix, before The Who, before anybody. The first feedback on record.” [11]

The other Beatles song to extensively use feedback was the six-minute (or eight, depending on the version) psychedelic work-of-art ‘It’s All Too Much’, which was penned by George. As most people will recall, it was the last song (excepting the reprise of ‘All Together Now’) used in the 1968 animated masterpiece Yellow Submarine, and appears over an equally-psychedelic animation sequence almost bursts off your screen! Feedback was also used in the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival Festival performance of Yoko’s ‘John, John (Let’s Hope For Peace)’. Hmm… I was watching the footage of TR&RF the other day (thank you to my godparents for recording it!), and I absolutely loved it – especially John’s bit – until Yoko started screaming her head off. Now, I like/respect Yoko as an artist (as physical art that you can see) and as someone who made John very, very happy, but her “music” (if you can call it that) is too avant-garde for me – and that’s coming from someone who’s a bit quirky, herself! I’ll put ‘It’s All Too Much’ below, but I’ll spare you Yoko…

 

5. Stadium Concerts

The Beatles playing the first-ever stadium gig in the history of the world - AKA Shea Stadium!

The Beatles playing the first-ever stadium gig in the history of the world – AKA Shea Stadium!

I’m sure that most people reading this have seen a music gig at a large stadium – here in Adelaide, the Stones were coming to open our new Adelaide Oval (our stadium), but Mick Jagger’s girlfriend tragically committed suicide, so they’re playing in October. But the first stadium concert is not credited to the Stones, but to their ‘rivals’ (not really…), The Fab Four! The Beatles – having performed in numerous halls/theatres/clubs for about seven years – played to a full house of 55,600 fans at Shea Stadium (a sporting stadium in the city that would later become John’s home, New York) on the 15th of August, 1965! Brian Epstein almost stopped this milestone from happening, as he was worried that the tickets wouldn’t sell out – but they did! The Shea Stadium crowd – apart from beginning a trend that would go on for decades to come – was the largest crowd The Beatles ever played to. But we all know it’s not the largest crowd they ever received – that’s reserved for my town, Adelaide! Oh, and how could I forget those gorgeous suits – they all look so darn handsome! Here’s a clip from that historic concert – hope you don’t mind screaming girls!

 

4. Heavy Metal

Yes, The Beatles were the first major band to write songs that would now be classed as ‘proto metal’ – all those crashing drums and bass and guitars! No doubt about that. There is, however, an argument between Beatles fans as to which Beatles song was the first heavy metal tune. Most people know about ‘Helter Skelter’ – the heaviest song around at the time of its recording – and its influence on bands like Black Sabbath and Motley Crue, but two other Beatles songs have also been credited with the invention of a genre. The first is ‘Ticket To Ride’ – the first song ever to involve stormy drums and heavy guitar/bass lines, important components in heavy metal. People such as Richie Unterberger, Ian MacDonald and John himself (plus me!) say the record was influential in the evolution of heavy metal, and because it was recorded three years before ‘Helter Skelter’ and four years before ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ (the other song up there), it is sometimes named the first heavy metal record. Now for ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ – this is arguably the heaviest song recorded by The Fab Four, and appears on Abbey Road. The music magazine Guitar World says that it may “have inadvertently started doom metal” – listen to the song, and you’ll see why. It’s heavier than ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Ticket To Ride’ put together, and that ending is very metal-ish. So, as you can see, that although people who favour Paul say argue that ‘Helter Skelter’ began metal, and Lennon Lovers argue back with ‘Ticket To Ride’, The Beatles invented a genre. And the rest is history.

One thing that really irritates me is when people call The Beatles a pop group, when – in actual fact – they rocked dead hard. Even their pop-iest song – ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ – has a rocky rhythm guitar/bass part, and early songs such as ‘It Won’t Be Long’ and pretty much the whole of Please Please Me rock real hard, too. And when people call them poppy, they seemingly forget about every song they recorded after 1964, and those songs I just mentioned. In my (and many others’) opinion, they were just as much a rock band as The Rolling Stones and other 1960s cited as ‘rock’. In fact, those songs above are three of the hardest-rocking songs recorded in that period, if not of all time…

 

3. The Three-Minute Pop-Song (Breach Of)

Ah, ‘Ticket To Ride’ strikes again! In 1965, it was the unspoken rules of music that a pop song must not go over three minutes long. But The Beatles being The Beatles, this didn’t matter (I salute you for not conforming, John, Paul, George and Ringo!). They recorded ‘Ticket To Ride’ in early 1965, which – apart from arguably being the first heavy metal song (see above) – went for a rebellious 3:10 minutes (gasp!)! This was the first pop song to go for an amount of time longer than three minutes, and thus was the basis for all sorts of late-1960s psychedelia!

 

2. “Long” Hair and “High-Heeled” shoes (for men, that is)

The Beatles sporting moptops - or long hair (if only the world could see them in 1969!)

The Beatles sporting moptops – or long hair (if only the world could see them in 1969!)

And an advertisement for Beatle boots from the '60s!

And an advertisement for Beatle boots from the ’60s!

Sure, in the early 1960s, the world’s definition of long hair (for men, anyway) was quite different, but The Beatles were really the first rock band to wear long hair! Their moptops were outrageously long for the 1960s, at first – but of course, they changed that! As everyone knows, their hair got longer and longer as time went by, and because of this, society’s perception of the appropriate length of men’s hair dissipated. This eventually amounted to John and George’s Jesus looks in 1969, and because those two’s earlier pioneering, nobody cared. And as for the Cuban heels… here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Beatle boots are tight-fitting, Cuban-heeled, ankle-length boots with a pointed toe which originated in 1963 when Brian Epstein discovered Chelsea boots while browsing in the London footwear company Anello & Davide, and consequently commissioned four pairs (with the addition of Cuban heels) for The Beatles to complement their new suit image upon their return from Hamburg, who wore them under drainpipe trousers.[11]

 

1. The Music Clip

Those two video clips above were made in 1967, but The Beatles first started making music clips (or ‘promos’, as they were then called) in late 1965, to substitute for live performances. This eventually amounted from black-and-white footage of the band miming to colour clips of them parading around the grounds of an English mansion (and still miming), the latter of which used for accompanying clips for their new single, ‘Paperback Writer’/’Rain’ in early 1966. These clips hit their peak in 1967 when the mad masterpieces used for promotion of ‘Penny Lane’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Hello Goodbye’ were produced. Because of these (and the song-sequences in each Beatles film), the world now has the modern music clip. The rest, as we all know, is history.

 

So there we go – a list of just six of the hundreds of ways the four lads from Liverpool revolutionised the world. I’ll leave you with one final picture of The Fab Four, but good day sunshine for now! 🙂

:-) !

🙂 !