20 OF THE MOST INTERESTING KNOWN AND
RUMORED UNRELEASED BEATLES RECORDINGS THAT HAVE YET TO CIRCULATE
A list, in chronological order of their interest, of 20 of the most
as-yet-uncirculated known and rumored recordings covered in the
Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film:
1. Live at the Cavern, mid-1962: Auctioned
to Paul McCartney on August 29,1985, this tape contains 18 songs,
mostly covers, including a few of which no Beatles version circulates.
Those covers, and the versions on which they were modeled, are: "Hey!
Baby" (Bruce Channel), "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody" (James
Ray), "Sharing You" (Bobby Vee), and "What's Your Name" (possibly Don
& Juan's doo-wop hit of the same title). As McCartney owns it
and nothing was used on Anthology 1,
however, we can probably assume the sound quality's not too good.
2. "Sheila," October 26, 1962, BBC: Occasionally
at their BBC sessions, the Beatles taped numbers that weren't used in
the actual broadcast. This cover of Tommy Roe's chart-topping Buddy
Holly soundalike "Sheila" is one of them, and
though a poor-fidelity live version that the group taped a couple of
months later in Hamburg was issued as part of the Star-Club tapes, this
would presumably be both better sounding and a better performance. It's
likely, however, that the tape was erased or has vanished forever.
3. "Three Cool Cats," January 16,
1963, BBC: Another instance of a Beatles song taped at a BBC
session, but not broadcast. There is a version of "Three Cool Cats"
from their January 1, 1962 Decca audition that's easily available. But
it's a shame this BBC version
doesn't survive, as presumably it would be a considerably improved
rendition, the group having improved so much in general in the ensuing
4. "Hold Me Tight," studio
outtake, February 11, 1963: It's known the Beatles attempted an
early version of "Hold Me Tight," later redone for With the Beatles, at their Please Please Me sessions. It's
likely the tapes (along with about half the session tapes for Please Please Me) no longer exist,
but stranger things have miraculously turned up.
5. "Do You Want to Know a Secret,"
demo tape, early 1963: Billy J. Kramer remembers hearing a demo
tape of this song before he covered it for his debut single on March
21, 1963. As he revealed in the liner notes to the CD The Best of Billy J. Kramer & the
Dakotas: The Definitive Collection, "I had this tape given to
me, and it was John Lennon singing it with an acoustic guitar. On the
tape he said, 'I'm sorry for the sound quality, but it's the quietest
room I could find in the whole building.' Then he flushed the toilet."
6. "Three Cool Cats," July 2, 1963, BBC: Yet
another version of this Coasters cover, taped at a BBC session in July
1963, but—like the one they taped for the BBC in January—not broadcast.
7. "World Without Love," demo tape,
circa early 1964: Peter Asher of Peter & Gordon has said he
has a tape of Paul McCartney's demo of "World Without Love" without the
bridge, before it was covered by Peter & Gordon for a #1 hit.
8. Beatles-Carl Perkins session, June
1, 1964: The late rockabilly great Carl Perkins claimed on
several occasions that he and the Beatles recorded in the studio
together on June 1, 1964. The songs they did varied according to the
account, but they might have included "Blue Suede Shoes," "Honey
Don't," "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," "Your True Love," "Sawdust
Dance Floor," and others. No tape has surfaced, however, and it seems
possible that if such a session took place, it might not have even been
taped. For while Perkins remembered staying in the studio until almost
three in the morning, no Beatles recording session officially ran past
midnight until October 13, 1965.
9. "You're My World," studio outtake,
June 3, 1964: A strange song for the group to be covering,
"You're My World" was not a Beatles original, but a song that had just
gotten to #1 in the UK for Cilla Black. As it turns out, however, it's
reported that the version lasts just 33 seconds.
10. "It's For You," demo, mid-1964: Cilla
Black has remembered getting a demo of this
Lennon-McCartney song that she covered on a 1964 single (and of which
the Beatles never released their own version), featuring just Paul and
11. "No Reply," demo, mid-1964: Before
the Beatles recorded this for Beatles
for Sale, there had been thoughts of "giving" it away to another
Brian Epstein-managed act, Tommy Quickly, though Quickly never did
release his own version. Colin Manley, who played guitar on Tommy
Quickly's unreleased cover of "No Reply," told Kristofer Engelhardt in Beatles Undercover that "I don't
think the Anthology 1 version
is the demo we heard; it's too complete. I wish it would have been the
one we heard. I'd back my life that the demo we used had no middle
eight; it didn't have any clue as to the rhythm we should use. It
contained the sound of a toilet flushing at the end which we thought
was hilarious because it was typical of John's humor. I think we were
told it was recorded in a hotel room. We immediately noticed when the
Beatles put it on their album Beatles
for Sale that it had a middle eight."
12. "In My Life," private tape, 1965: In
his 1980 Playboy interview
with David Sheff, John Lennon said he probably had an original
(presumably home) tape of "In My Life." John's memory wasn't always
faultless, but in the same answer, he also remembered having tapes of
"Strawberry Fields Forever" and "We Can Work It Out," both of which did
turn up. Like "Strawberry Fields Forever," "In My Life" is known to
have mutated considerably in the course of its composition—in an early
draft, it referred to numerous Liverpool landmarks by name—which could
make pre-studio tapes of the song fascinating.
13. "What Goes On," private tape,
late 1965: In the April 1966 issue of The Beatles Monthly Book, Neil
Aspinall reported that "when Paul wanted to show Ringo how 'What Goes
On' sounded he made up a multi-track tape. Onto this went Paul singing,
Paul playing lead guitar, Paul playing bass and Paul playing drums.
Then Ringo listened to the finished tape and added his own ideas before
the recording session."
14. "Love You To," take 1 (studio
outtake), April 11,
1966: The most intriguing of the Revolver outtakes known to have
been taped is an acoustic version of George Harrison's "Love You To"
with Paul McCartney on backing vocals that must have been considerably
different in this early form than the Indian-flavored final album track.
15. Paul McCartney home tapes, circa
1966: In the biography Many
Years from Now, Paul remembered using a studio in Montagu Square
in London to "demo things. I'd just written 'Eleanor Rigby' and so I
went down there in the basement on my days off on my own. Just took a
guitar down and used it as a demo studio." A very brief snippet of Paul
on acoustic guitar singing "Eleanor Rigby" has shown up that might be
from this period, but no other such tapes have circulated.
of Light," studio outtake,
January 5, 1967: One of the most legendary never-heard Beatles
"songs," "Carnival of Light" was actually an experimental sound
collage, lasting almost 14 minutes, made for (and played at) a
countercultural media event of the same name at the Roundhouse Theatre
in London on January 28 and February 4 in 1967. There's an entire
12-page chapter on the recording in Ian Peel's book The Unknown Paul McCartney: McCartney and
the Avant-Garde, for further details. Since it was compared by
McCartney biographer Barry Miles to the Mother of Invention's searingly
jarring, side-long 1966 Freak Out! avant-garde
cut "The Return of the Monster Magnet" in Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now,
however, it can be assumed that it's neither too tuneful nor too
characteristic of the Beatles, even in their psychedelic period.
17. "Good Night," mid-1968: Beatles
engineer Geoff Emerick's memoir, Here,
There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles
(co-written with Howard Massey), mentions that John made a demo of
"Good Night" for Ringo that was played back a couple of times in the
studio. "It's a shame that this particular tape has been lost to the
world, and that nobody will ever hear the gorgeous way John sang his
tender little song," wrote Emerick. "In comparison, I really don't
think Ringo did the song justice."
Skelter, take 3 (studio outtake), July 18, 1968: Perhaps the Holy Grail of
unheard Beatles outtakes is this legendary 27-minute version of "Helter
Skelter," at a session also producing ten- and twelve-minute versions.
In The Beatles Recording Sessions,
Mark Lewisohn noted that "each take developed into a tight and
concisely played jam with long instrumental passages." The
four-and-a-half-minute edit of take 2 on Anthology 3 lowered
expectations, however, as even this truncated version both veered on
tedium and was far inferior to the final arrangement, with its dragging
tempo and rote blues-rock guitar licks. Explaining why a longer version
was not chosen for the Anthology
CD compilations in a 1995 Dutch interview (as seen in the bonus disc of
the bootlegged director's cut of the Anthology
documentary), George Martin was blunt: "I think it gets boring." His
elaboration perhaps gave away more than he would have liked about the
core philosophy behind the Anthology
collections: "In making these records, my consideration has been to put
in works that are interesting to the majority of people. Not to Beatle
fanatics. And I have to look at the public as a broad, interesting
thing. And I don't want to put anything that people are going to
say"—here he yawned for emphasis—"'I wonder when this is gonna finish.'
And that's what that would do. Now, there are the hardcore Beatle
fanatics who would love to have this. But they already have it on
bootleg." Most Beatles fanatics love George Martin for what he did with
the group, but most could have told him that he was wrong—we don't have
it on bootleg, as none of the long versions have ever made it onto that
format. (In fact, the over-halved edit of take 2 on Anthology 3 is the only version of
"Helter Skelter" from this session to have made it into circulation.)
19. "Etcetera," studio outtake, August 20, 1968:
The second most sought-after outtake from The White Album is Paul McCartney's
"Etcetera," recorded as a one-take demo by the composer. Recalled by
EMI technical engineer Alan Brown as a beautiful ballad, the tape's
apparently no longer in EMI's vaults. That could be because Paul,
contrary to Brown's estimation, didn't rate the song highly when he
spoke about it in Barry Miles's McCartney biography Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now,
where he remembered it has having been written with a Marianne
Faithfull cover in mind.
20. "The Long and Winding Road,"
studio outtake, circa late 1968: It's also known that Paul,
playing piano, did a demo of "The Long and Winding Road" at some time
during the White Album sessions,
in advance of it being rehearsed and recorded at the Get Back/Let It Be sessions in
Honorable mention: George quits the
band, January 10, 1969: The tape was rolling at the precise
moment when George Harrison quit the Beatles (for just a few days, as
it turned out) during the Get
Back/Let It Be sessions—but the discussion/reaction immediately
following that moment is missing from the circulating unreleased tapes.
unless otherwise specified.
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