Unreleased Beatles song from Hard Day’s Night?

Michael Gerber
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Okay folks, after checking with Chris Carter from KLOS’ wonderful “Breakfast With the Beatles”—a Sunday morning institution in my household, and should be in yours, too–I snipped out this bit of new Beatle-music. Originally recorded during the sessions for “A Hard Day’s Night,” it was found by collector Dave Morrell, and had its worldwide debut on BWTB last Sunday. I couldn’t find it anywhere on the web, so I thought I’d post it so non-LA Beatlepeople could hear and enjoy.

Sorry for the slack air at the end, I have to learn GarageBand over again every time I use it.

(This should be obvious, but in case it’s necessary to say, all rights to this material remain with their holders; any rights holders who would prefer I take it down, please get in touch and I’ll remove it immediately. It is provided here for scholarly use only… and to spread the word about Chris’ show, which I think is amazing.)

I gave a little of the backstory in yesterday’s post, but for the full tale–including why it’s probably John, Paul, George and Ringo doing a pitch-perfect spoof of a vanilla British Invasion band–you should listen to the full BWTB show. Dave Morrell is a long-time Beatles fan and collector, and he and Chris talked at length about the song’s provenance (roughly from 1.49.00 to 1.55.33 in the show). If that whets your appetite, you should listen to all of Dave’s stories (including some Close Encounters of the Lennon Kind). Dave’s got a new book out, which can be ordered via Amazon.

Thanks to Chris Carter, commenter @parlance–and Dave Morrell for getting the track in the first place!

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  1. Avatar parlance wrote:

    My pleasure. Thanks for isolating it.

  2. Avatar Devin McKinney wrote:

    I want to say it’s The Beatles because … it sounds just like them. I don’t have my headphones so can’t say if the bass is as McCartneyesque as Chris and Dave say it is; my laptop speakers are giving me mostly guitar, but it’s got all that ’63 and early ’64 thrust of John’s Rickenbacker and twang of George’s Gretsch.

    Morrell’s account of provenance at least provides a back-story with some authority. But I’m troubled by the fact that Lewisohn’s Recording Sessions makes no mention of such a recording. Where would it have been done if not Abbey Road? And ML did log Beatles sessions at other studios (Olympic, Twickenham) so it’s not like he wouldn’t have included even a quickie session because it wasn’t at Abbey Road. I didn’t listen to the entire Breakfast show; maybe they address this elsewhere in the episode.

    But even absent studio documentation, this is very exciting. Contrary to one of the callers, it doesn’t sound anything like The Shadows. It sounds like what came along to dispel The Shadows.

    I remember Dave Morrell from an article in Rolling Stone’s 1984 commemorative Beatles issue. He told about meeting John Lennon in 1974, going with him to the roof of the Dakota, and watching as John pointed out the spot on the New York skyline where he’d seen a UFO not long before.

  3. Avatar ODIrony wrote:

    Do I hear the faint singing of something like “Do-whop do-whop do-whop” beginning about 10 seconds in? It sounds like one voice. McCartney?

    On the con side of the discussion: I’m not sure the drums really sound like Ringo. Consider the roll around 16-17 seconds in.

    Also, if it is the Beatles, Lennon’s guitar – which does sound like his playing – is mixed way back. Uncharacteristic for George Martin production, but perhaps that was intentional?

  4. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    Where would it have been done if not Abbey Road?

    Possibly something quickly recorded by Dick Lester on the set? Which would explain why it wasn’t categorized by Lewisohn? I can imagine Lester looking at the script and saying “We need something for Ringo’s transistor for the train scene” and the lads tossing this off very quickly, a parody of all the second-raters they’d toured with?

    I have no proof of any of this; just speaking out my backside, as usual, but it’s a plausible theory.

    • Avatar linda a. wrote:

      Hologram your speculation sounds really plausible. It does explain how this recording would’ve come into existence without being accounted for in Lewisohn’s Recording Sessions. I can picture Lester saying that to them, and the group getting on with it.

  5. Avatar Devin McKinney wrote:

    The more I think, the harder I find it to believe, especially at this late date, that The Beatles recorded anything for even semi-official use that went unnoted at the time, and that wasn’t even rumored in the decades since; that anything could have escaped the worldwide net of attention that caught everything they did for the eight or nine years they were recording.

    That’s as opposed to home demos, of which I’m sure there are untold numbers because they were recorded in private and not meant for general dissemination. The above is clearly something that was recorded in a studio, to a purpose; it would have a paper trail behind it, created for both corporate and union purposes. If Lewisohn devoted an entry to the Beatles’ hours-long stopover in Paris’s Pathe Marconi studios to overdub German versions of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You,” he would have devoted an entry to this, a unique one-off composition written (?) and recorded on the spot specifically for soundtrack use.

    The counter to that is that, as I discover right now, Lewisohn in Recording Sessions fails for some reason to note the April 18-19, 1964, sessions at IBC Studios in London that yielded “Shout” and a bunch of new recordings of previous Beatles songs for the Around the Beatles special. Most curious, that omission, though I’m sure it was rationalized and not accidental. (Perhaps Lewisohn adopted a policy of logging only sessions in recording studios per se, not television studios.)

    The counter to that, of course, is that we do know about the IBC sessions, even if not through Lewisohn’s studio chronicle; and have known those details since the 1980s, when “Shout” and the re-recordings appeared on well-documented bootlegs.

    I don’t deny the possibility that a Beatle excerpt, especially one so transient and non-attention-grabbing (I never gave a single thought before now to who might have recorded that thing coming from Ringo’s radio), could have slipped through the net. It just seems the more likely explanation, given the minute documentation to which every aspect of the Beatles’ production has been subjected, is that a Richard Lester functionary, instructed to deliver a snatch of “beat”-flavored program music, contracted with the local Musicians Union for a quickie session with anonymous players, whose names it’s not difficult to believe could have escaped history’s notice, and who happened to have done a really good job of imitating the Beatles for these fleeting seconds. (The Knickerbockers’ “Lies” reminds us it’s not impossible for a group of otherwise unremarkable players to capture a Beatle sound for as much as two and a half minutes, and to produce thereby a deceptively accurate simulacrum.)

    I agree with ODIrony that the drums don’t sound terribly Ringo-like. But the guitars, at least, are pretty uncanny. And it would make whatever story lies behind the recording even more interesting if we were to discover it was three Beatles without Ringo…

    • Avatar ODIrony wrote:

      Good analysis, Devin. As further argument against its Beatles provenance, I would add that while the bass playing is very McCartney-esque, the tone setting and – for want of a better/more accurate term – syncopation just doesn’t have that liveliness that was always so indicative of the man himself. Ultimately, it reminds me more of a very good tribute group who benefit from two members who have really mastered the Beatles-style of playing their particular instrument.

      @Hologram Sam: The only scene I remember in the movie to feature amplifiers is the “If I Fell” sequence. Also, it’s well documented that train scenes were done first. That would argue that the scene with the upper class twit would have everything needed for it set before production. Therefore, again, when and where would it have been recorded?

      Finally, compare the overall sound of the piece with the instrumental of “I Saw Her Standing There” – unquestionably the Beatles – in the Mersey Sound documentary.

      • OK, guys, I am notorious for getting these kinds of questions wrong (I doubted the “Mama/Dada” take of Revolution 1, for example) but here’s my take: it sounds like The Beatles taking the piss out of all the rock-schlock on the radio they were in the process of destroying. They loved to mimic lowbrow forms of pop music — on Frost, on “You Know My Name,” on “Los Paranoias.” So could they have done it? Sure. If they had done it, would they have tried to play not in their own styles, but other styles? Yes.

        And remember, in 1964 they weren’t THE BEATLES yet. Yes, Shenson/UA could’ve hired other musicians to create a track, but why?

        I could be wrong, I probably am, but because it sounds like their sense of humor, and because they were excellent mimics, and because it fits with the slap-dash methods employed during AHDN — plus the circumstantial evidence put forth by Chris Carter — I think it’s quite plausible that it IS them.

  6. Avatar ODIrony wrote:

    Well, over at Beatles Rarity, #HappyNat says it IS the Beatles. http://www.thebeatlesrarity.com/2014/07/03/asknat-concerning-the-train-music-heard-in-a-hard-days-night/#more-13511

    That said, I still have my doubts both on the drumming and bass playing counts. 🙂

  7. Also, it’s well documented that train scenes were done first. That would argue that the scene with the upper class twit would have everything needed for it set before production.

    There actually would have been no need for the radio music at that point, as sound effects are added in post-production. The film wrapped in late April, so they might have recorded it after that. In fact, there’s an intriguing entry in Lewisohn’s book for June 3, when they spent the afternoon at EMI rehearsing with Jimmy Nicol, though Lewisohn says it was not taped. A couple of people have remarked that the drumming in the radio clip doesn’t sound like Ringo, so….could it be that a few stray seconds of the Nicol rehearsal were recorded?

  8. Avatar jim wrote:

    From a Wikipedia entry for Jimmy Page:

    In a 2010 interview, Page remembered contributing guitar to the incidental music of The Beatles’ 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night, which was being recorded at Abbey Road Studios.[20]


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