A year or so ago I had the idea to run a series of pun-tastic posts called ‘It was plenty years ago today‘. Based on the success of those Beatles mastertapes that I had posted (when Plain Or Pan melted immediately and the internet police first cottoned on to this site) I would combine my expert textpert knowledge of The Beatles with some of their better bootlegs in my collection and post rare outtakes and the like on the anniversary of the track being recorded. For one reason or other, I never quite got round to doing it, until today.
Given that this weekend is Beatles Weekend on BBC2 and given that the remastered albums are out in the middle of the week (now there’s a novel way of promoting a computer game – cannae wait to play it by the way), this is as good a time as any to get things going. Plenty years ago today (42 41 (oops!) to be precise), a week or so after Brian Epstein’s death, The Beatles reconvened (at Paul McCartney’s insistence – the others, especially Lennon, had no motivation to continue) on the 5th September to start work on the Magical Mystery Tour project.
First up saw them tackle I Am The Walrus. Between the 5th and 6th and 27th, 28th and 29th September, The Beatles twisted and turned John Lennon’s gobbledigook nonsense tune into the psychedelic masterpiece you are no doubt familiar with. The tune itself began life in Lennon’s Weybridge house. Absent mindedly tickling the ivories one morning, Lennon heard the sound of a police car outside, noting how the ‘notes’ of the siren changed as the car got further away. He began replicating this sound on the piano, and this became the chord progression for I Am The Walrus. It should be noted here that JWL was heavily into LSD by this point in his life. Taking drugs to make music to take drugs to, as Spacemen 3 once said. Ian Macdonald’s excellent Revolution In The Head book dissects Lennon’s acid-soaked Walrus lyrics to the nth degree way better than I ever could. It’s a fantastic book. The last time I was in Fopp I think it was on sale for about £4! But I digress. Back to the music…
Over the course of the 5 sessions, the tune would go from instrumental (here‘s take 7) to incomplete vocal versions (here‘s take 16, minus the drunk-sounding strings at the start. Listen out for Lennon fluffing the ‘yellow matter custard’ line.), to alternate mixes (here‘s one) to the finished item complete with a King Lear radio play and various bits ‘n bobs woven into the mix by George Martin. Achtung! Here‘s the German mono mix.
The tracks above come from a 15 track bootleg called Walrus, Eggman and Pinguins. It varies in quality and, to be honest, many of the tracks sound identical, but it nonetheless charts the studio progress of one of The Beatles more interesting moments. You can download the whole shebang here. Goo Goo G’joob!
Also available for download, reissues (!) of those Beatles 4 track mastertapes that caused all the fuss way back when.
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
With A Little Help From My Friends
And also still available (in high quality flac form only – the internet police jump straight on board with their handcuffs and truncheons whenever the mp3 of this becomes available) is the previously unheard 10min + mix of Revolution. Possibly an outfake, possibly the real deal, I wrote about it a wee while ago here. It’s a good read, even if I do say so myself. On the other hand, if you’re only here circling overhead like a vulture awaiting your next musical feast, you can cut out all the crap and download it here.
*Bonus Beatle fact #1!!!
I Am The Walrus is in Gary Numan’s list of Top 20 songs ever.
*Bonus Beatle fact #2!!!
As well as recording I Am The Walrus on the 6th September, The Beatles also had a go at George Harrison’s under-rated masterpiece Blue Jay Way. Sadly I have no outtakes of this. If anyone does have, you know how to contact me…
*Bonus Beatle fact #3!!!
Did you know that at the end of I Feel Fine the studio microphones unwittingly picked up the sounds of some dogs barking outside Abbey Road? Hear it here! Right after the last “ooh!” backing vocal. Now dig it out your own copy, listen to it, turn it up for the last 10 seconds and you’ll hear them. I wonder if the dogs’ll still be on the up and coming remasters?