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The Beatles – Twelve Days At Twickenham (Unicorn Records UC-125/127/129/131/133/135/137/139/141)

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 Twelve Days At Twickenham (Unicorn Records UC-125/127/129/131/133/135/137/139/141)

Twelve Days At Twickenham is a massive eighteen disc box set, a new release on Unicorn Records.  It compiles all of the Twickenham Camera B Nagra Rolls from January 3-14 1969 in the best available sound quality.  Unicorn previously released a 24 disc box set titled Get Back Camera B Rolls (UC-S001-S024) with material from January 25th to 31st, 1969 in June 2002 and in November 2002 issued a 10 disc box set called Get Back Camera B Rolls Vol.2 (UC-S025-S034) presenting the sessions from January 22nd-25th 1969, again unearthing more unheard and previously unbootlegged Nagra tapes.

Unicorn planned to release this set originally in 2003.  The artwork was posted online, but the set hadn’t been released until now.  These are all original silver discs, not CDR, and haven’t been circulated.  The sound quality is uniformly excellent.  

This set, according to the liner notes, collects “together more unearthed Nagra tapes for the first time on compact disc and is the last in the series of Camera B rolls released by Unicorn Records.” Unicorn include a lengthy essay by Michael Philips, published in the January 2003 edition of Time Trip magazine giving a detailed history of the Get Back sessions and their various incarnations on bootleg.  He writes:

“For over 20 years, the collecting public has been fed a continuing stream of bootlegs drawn from the Twickenham sessions. These have usually been chopped up, placed out of sequence, and presented in inferior sound quality.

“Of course, bootleggers can only work from material at their disposal, and in the beginning the only material available was the film ‘Let It Be’.  The first Twickenham material to appear, then, came from the soundtrack of the film on a double album called ‘Cinelogue: Let It Be’, which was released in February, 1974 by Contra Band Music. Of course, this was back in the days before home video, so fans were more delighted to be able to enjoy the ‘Let It Be’ soundtrack on record!

“The release of the ‘Let It Be’ videotape in 1982 provided a new audio source, and bootlegs produced after that date were mastered from the video soundtrack rather than film. The first of these was ‘In a Play Anyway’, a 2 LP set on Circuit Records (matrix number TWK 2262).

“A further reissue by Beeb Transcription Records (on a new plate TR-2170) was titled ‘The Last Blast’. It was released in 1988 and its sound quality is slightly inferior. Of course, most of the film soundtrack from Twickenham is completely useless because longer source tapes have surfaced.

“In late 1974 the first completely unreleased Twickenham outtakes surfaced on the legendary ‘Sweet Apple Trax’ LPs. These were originally released as two two-LP sets by CBM using the Instant Analysis label (matrix numbers 4185 – REV-2000 and 4181 – STD-2002).

“This phenomenal series was among the most enjoyable vinyl bootlegs of its era, and many of us listened to it for hours on end, leading to a lifelong addiction to this stuff! By the way, these LPs were originally announced under the title ‘The Apple Treasure Chest Masters, Vol. 1 & 2′. When they finally appeared, they had ‘deluxe’ printed sepia toned jackets. A late ’70′s repress from the original plates came with blank white labels and black and white covers which were copies of the originals.

“The ‘Sweet Apple Trax’ LPs were copied almost immediately by Kornyphone, which combined the material onto a single double set called ‘Hahst Az Sun’ (TAKRL-2950). This prompted CBM to remaster their own release as a double album in order to compete. It was distributed under the title ‘Hot As Sun’ (matrix number 4216 REV 2000 / 4217 BLD 2002) on the Instant Analysis label. In 1980 single LP repressings of ‘Hot As Sun’ were distributed as ‘Sweet Apple Tracks Crate 1′ and ‘Sweet Apple Tracks Crate 2′. It might be noted that the Kornyphone issue ‘Hahst Az Sun’ rearranged the songs and omitted a few seconds here and there.

“This set was copied many times and reissued as a variety of single LP bootlegs, and with a full color cover as ‘Sweet Apple Trax’ on the Newsound Records label (matrix NR 909-1). The Newsound plates were also used for picture disc which came out under the titles ‘Sweet Apple Trax Vol. 1′ and ‘Sweet Apple Trax Vol. 2′. The original source tapes were remastered by Audifon records for the first 2 records of the 3 LP set ‘The Beatles’ (commonly known as ‘The Black Album’ released in May, 1981).

“These plates were subsequently used for the first three albums of the original ‘Get Back Journals’ vinyl boxed set. More recently, an hour of the original tapes were released on CD in ‘Songs From The Past Vol. 3′. All of the material was included on the first ‘Get Back Journals’ CD set.

“The next batch of Twickenham outtakes to appear were on the EPs ‘Twickenham Jams’, which popped up in February 1977 (matrix VC-4591) and ‘Watching Rainbows’ (which appeared in May 1977). This material soon appeared on bootleg albums of the same names. ‘Watching Rainbows’ (which had more material than the EP of the same name) came from Audifon in March of 1978. Twickenham Jams was a straight knock-off on the label Smilin’ Ears (filling out the LP with non – ‘Get Back’ sessions material).

“Most of the ‘Watching Rainbows’ performances showed up on ‘The Black Album’ in better quality, and the few moments that didn’t are included on ‘Get Back Journals 2′. It might be noted that a second edition of ‘Watching Rainbows’ came out in July of 1978. This upgraded the sound quality of the ‘Watching Rainbows’ / ‘Madman’ / ‘Mean Mr. Mustard’ tape, cutting off some of the ‘Watching Rainbows’ jam in the process (but don’t worry, it was restored back on ‘Get Back Journals ‘). Copies of the ‘Watching Rainbows’ LP appeared on the 2 LP set ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and the boxed set ‘So Much Younger Then’.

“Collectors had to wait a couple of years for the next batch of Twickenham outtakes to surface. Oddly enough, the first taste of a new tape came in the form of a sampler tape, reproduced at the end of a one-sided record from Tobe Milo called ‘Man of The Decade’ which came out in early 1980.  This rather useless bootleg reproduced bits and pieces of various January 3rd performances which were unbootlegged up to that time.

“Later in the year the entire tape appeared on an album called Vegemite. This record was quite difficult for American collectors to find, and was the first product from a bootlegger who later went on to fame for his CD product under the ‘Goblin’ label. The 2 LPs of ‘Vegemite’ (BT-6896) gave us our first exposure to the January 2nd / 3rd material, albeit in lousy sound quality. The set was copied in 1981 by JPM Records as 2 single LPs and retited The Dream is Over Vol. 1 (JPM1081) and ‘The Dream is Over Vol. 2′ (JPM 280102) in slightly lesser sound quality.

“These, in turn, were quickly copied by Sweet Sound Records as ‘Sweet Apple Trax Vol. III’ (W-909) in even worse sound quality, and the Sweet Sound masters (which was not even complete) was copied onto picture disc by another bootlegger (matrix SA-3909). Great Live Concerts copied it as a double album called ‘Apple Trax Vol.2′ (15802) and Strawberry Records later copied this issue as part of its 6 LP compilation ‘Apple Trax’ and single LP series ‘Applemania’.

“Knockoffs aside, all of the material here appears on the ‘Get Back Journals’ CDs, as well as ‘Songs From The Past Vol.4′ and ‘Songs From The Past Vol.5′ CDs – usually in much improved sound quality. In May 1981 one of the classic bootlegs appeared on the Ruthless Rhymes label – The Beatles (‘Black Album’) A parody of the legitimate ‘White Album’ which could only have appeared during the late, lamented vinyl age.

“This bootleg included a wonderful ‘alternate’ poster which neatly complimented the original. The first two LPs here were simply repressing of the TAKRL ‘Hahzt As Sun’ plates, but the third album offered a significant upgrade in quality to the Watching Rainbows material, as well as adding 5 numbers which hadn’t appeared up to this point. This set was subsequently repressed by Box Top, and the stampers were used for the first 3 LPs of the vinyl Get Back Journals set. A copy of the ‘Black Album’ (from a different bootlegger) was issued on the EVA label on plate LP A/B/C/D/E/F. This omitted on of the versions of ‘One After 909′.

“At the end of ’81 a new ‘Get Back’ session bootleg began to filter out of Europe (with both a black and white and full color cover). T his was called ‘Her Majesty’ and featured a few new songs from Twickenham, plus a whole bunch of Apple stuff which hadn’t been heard before. It was almost as awful in sound quality as ‘Vegemite’, and is completely useless at this point, since all of its material has appeared in better quality on CD.

“An American bootleg called ‘Wonderful Picture of You’ copied the ‘Get Back material on it from ‘Her Majesty’. This title has also been copied as part of the boxed set called ‘Apple Trax’, and by Great Live Concerts as ‘Sweet Apple Trax Vol.3′ (15803). Finally, someone had the bright idea of copying the entire LP onto CD direct from vinyl.

“In September 1983, ‘King Records’ put out ‘I Had a Dream’, a new bootleg of ‘Get Back’ sessions which was entirely Apple. This was followed the next month by ‘Almost Grown’ (MLK-002), an enjoyable hodge-podge of material from both Twickenham and Apple. Many of the performances here were later included in the original ‘Get Back Journals’ and ‘Songs From The Past Vol.5′ (CD) and by this time the entire LP is quite useless.

“Almost a year later, in September 1984, King Records issued the last in their series of ‘Get Back’ bootlegs, this one called Singing The Blues (MLK-003) Only a couple of songs came from Twickenhamand these, too, are now found elsewhere in better sound quality.

“In September of 1986 the most ambitious ‘Get Back’ bootleg to date surfaced, called ‘The Get Back Journals’. This came two ways, in a deluxe film box, and in regular small boxes held together by a simple color wrap-around. While the set had eleven discs, it was flawed by poor sound quality and even worse pressing quality.

“It was reissued in 1993 on CD with a couple of hours of new material added, and a significant upgrade in the sound quality. Needless to say, it contained much material unavailable to collectors up to that time (much of it from Apple). The entire vinyl set was copied by SUMA records under a variety of names and having even worse sound quality.

“In January 1988 Core Ltd. released ‘Code Name Russia’ (BL 888-2), an excellent quality bootleg comprised entirely of Twickenham outtakes. Most of the performances here were entirely new, and quite enjoyable – and most of them were copied onto CD in September 1988 from the tape source as part of the ‘Songs From The Past’ series (Volume 2 and a small part of Volume 1, to be precise).  ‘Songs From The Past’ Vol.1 and 2 have, in turn, been rendered obsolete by the two ‘Get Back Journals’ CD sets (at least as far as Twickenham material is concerned).

“At the end of ’88 another Get Back session bootleg appeared on the Tiger Beat label (a subsidiary of the legendary Starlight Records company). The LP, ‘Bye Bye Love’, was a knock-off of (most of) the soundtrack from a videotape of ‘Let It Be’ outtakes which was in common circulation among collectors (more of the video soundtrack appears on Tiger Beat’s ‘Classified Documents Vol. 3′ LP). 

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to listen to, both because the performances are poor and choppy and the sound quality sucks. Needless to say, the ‘Get Back Journals’ set will try to see to it that you never need go out of your way to find this hunk of vinyl.

“In ’89 ‘Songs From The Past’ Vol. 3-5 appeared. While Vol.3 offered us an hour of the Sweet Apple Trax master tape, Vol.4 and 5 gave us a significant upgrade of much of the material which had previously appeared on ‘Vegemite’ (with some obits omitted here and there, and some bits added). It’s all academic at this point, since if you have both ‘Journals’ CD boxes you don’t need the ‘Songs From The Past Vo. 3-5′ CDs at all.

“1990 saw the rise of Yellow Dog Records throughout this decade they have issued a number of important released featuring ‘Get Back’ material. The first two of these (‘Unsurpassed Masters Vol.5′ and ‘Celluloid Rock’) featured only material from Apple. The next two (‘Get Back and 22 Other Songs’ and ‘Complete Rooftop Concert’) both centered on Apple also, but featured some new and / or upgraded Twickenham performances as part of their ‘bonus’ tracks.

“These were followed by the outstanding release ‘All Things Must Pass, Part I’, which contained ‘Get Back’ session performances featuring George on lead vocal. This disc was split almost evenly between Apple and Twickenham, with many of the performances being previously unheard. Needless to say, all the Twickenham material contained on the discs mentioned about can be found on the two ‘Get Back Journals’ boxes.

“Yellow Dogs next ‘Get Back’ release was ‘WBCN Get Back Reference Acetate’ which contained Apple material coupled with a 33+ minute ‘bonus’ track of January 14th material (primarily dialogue, and painfully boring dialogue at that). This material, drawn from the identical source tape, later appeared (along with more dull January 14th dialogue), on ‘Rockin’ Movie Stars, Volume 3′. This was the last Yellow Dog ‘Get Back’ release for some time, and the void was filled by a company calling itself ‘Blue Kangaroo’, which released three discs full of (mostly) new material.

“The first of the volumes of ”69 Rehearsals’ contained only Apple material. The latter two (Vol. 2, Vol. 3) featured much new Twickenham material (which is gathered on this set and returned to its original context). Also released during this period was ‘Hail Hail Rock’n'Roll’, which featured a number of new Apple performances, but only four Twickenham performances, and ‘Corn of the Apple’, which is equally short on Twickenham.

“Yellow Dog returned to the ‘Get Back’ sessions with the 1994 release of ‘All Things Must Pass, Part 2′, another excellent quality set of performances featuring George on vocal. This was followed immediately by ‘The Auction Tapes, Volume 1′ which was a hodgepodge of Twickenham and Apple material, some of it previously unheard and all of it in great quality.

“The Twickenham material from these two discs is of course found on the Journals boxes, and expect the Apple material to be found on a future release. Yellow Dog followed these with ‘Rock and Roll’, an exceptional disc which featured more than 50 oldies performances from the sessions, a virtual encyclopedia of the group’s roots.

“This disc is a necessary compliment to the Journal boxes because it upgrades the sound quality on some material on ‘The Get Back Journals’. Because you’ll need it anyway for the ‘Journals 1′ upgrade, we elected not to include the new Twickenham material on it here on ‘Journals 2′.

“1994 also saw the advent of Orange Records, a subsidiary of Yellow Dog, which released an eight volume set of ‘Get Back’ material entitled ‘Rockin’ Movie Stars’. Which much of this material was previously unheard, the discs were hap-haphazardly arranged, often duplicating each other and sometimes containing incomplete of inferior versions of things already issued.

“With the exception of the third volume (which contains a chronologically correct presentation of much of the horrid January 14th session) none of these discs feature Twickenham material not found on the ‘Journals’ boxes.  Late in 1994, Yellow Dog issued the first of three boxed sets entitled ‘The Ultimate Collection’. Each of these four CD sets feature one full disc of Twickenham material (the rest being non-’Get Back’ session material). Taken together the three discs present ALL existent January 2nd tapes, as well as the first half hour of January 3rd.

“Towards the end of 1995, Vigotone released another amazing 8CD package,’The Get Back Journals II’ to complement their first 8CD box almost two years earlier. The box set contained 4 double CD’s Inside a white cardbox, with a heavy colour cardbox slipcase. This also Included a 28 page book with many colour and black & white pictures. Of the nine hours presented In this set, almost two hours of It was previously unheard by collectors at the time of release. In 1996, after a short while away, Yellow Dog were back with a great new release called ‘Leaning On A Lamppost’. 

“This disc contained previously unavailable camera rolls from the Twickenham sessions on January, 6th 1969. The label was yet again on the top of collectors lists with an 8CD box set released In December 1999, entitled ‘The Twickenham Sessions’ which contained a wealth of previously unearthed ‘Let It Be’ movie rolls In excellent quality.

“How could things get any better? Well, In the millennium year, Yellow Dog began to Issue a series of CDs entitled ‘Day By Day-The Complete ‘Get Back’ Sessions’ these began from January the 2nd, and chronicled all the available Camera A rolls from the complete canon of Nagra tape rolls.

“In the same year Vigotone packaged an elaborate 17CD box set entitled ‘Thirty Days’ which was a ‘Best Of’ collection of both camera A and B Rolls, this set also Included as disc 17, Glyn Johns first Get Back compilation. Again, at the time of release, this set contained a mass of previously unheard material.

“So there we have It, a revised account of A History Of The ‘Get Back’ Bootleg, what more can Beatles collectors look for In unreleased ‘Get Back’ sessions? It’s taken over 33 years for the complete canon of camera rolls to emerge, so one must ask themselves, what about the multi-track recordings? Well, compared to what has been released from the Nagra tapes, not that much has appeared.

“Obviously we have the ‘Let It Be’ album, and the small amount of new material Apple released from their Anthology sets a few years back, plus various master mixes by Glyn Johns, with an alternate line-up of tracks opposed to the finished album, and finally, some alternate John Barrett mixes taken from private tape dubs of his master mixes. In this new age of bootleg releases, I guess It’s just a matter of time before we see more of this stuff appearing.”

The following are short descriptions of the contents of each disc.  The text is taken from the excellent website The Beatles Bible which gives very good descriptions of the events of each day’s filming at Twickenham Studios in early January, 1969.

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 1 (UC-125/6)

Disc 1 (64:47) January 3rd, 1969:  Roll 50B – 16:13 (The Long And Winding Road / Oh! Darling / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer / Dialogue / Jams / I’m So Tired / Obla-Di Obla-Da / Negro In Reserve), Roll 51B – 16:00 (Don’t Let Me Down / I’ve Got A Feeling /One after 909), Roll 52B Slate 40 – 16:07 (One After 909 / I’ll Wait Till Tomorrow /The Hippy Hippy Shake / Two Of Us), Roll 53B – 16:26 (Dialogue / Sun King / Improvisation /Short Fat Fannie / Midnight Special / Gimme Some Truth / All Things Must Pass)

Disc 2 (64:31) January 3rd, 1969:  Roll 54B Slate 47 – 15:40 (All Things Must Pass / Dialogue / All Things Must Pass), Roll 55B Slate 48 – 16:15 (Dialogue / All Things Must Pass) Roll 56B Slate 51 – 16:11 (All Things Must pass / Dialogue / All Things Must Pass / Every Little Thing /Piece Of My Heart), Roll 57B Slate 54 – 16:24 (Dialogue / I’ve Been Good To You / All Things Must Pass)

The second day of rehearsals for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions saw them play a number of songs, many of which were rough versions of rock ‘n’ roll oldies, improvisations and numbers from the Lennon-McCartney back catalogue.

John Lennon was late arriving at Twickenham Film Studios, and the first part of the day featured just Paul McCartney on piano. He worked through a number of works-in-progress, including several songs which ended up on Let It Be and Abbey Road.

Ringo Starr played brief versions of songs he had written titled Taking A Trip To Carolina and Picasso; the former was included on the Fly On The Wall disc that came with early copies of Let It Be… Naked. George Harrison, meanwhile, played a number of half-written songs including the Dylanesque Ramblin’ Woman.

After Lennon’s arrival, much of the day was spent playing rock ‘n’ roll classics, including several from The Beatles’ Cavern Club and Hamburg years. They also played a version of I’m So Tired with McCartney on lead vocals, and a swift rendition of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.

The Beatles became more disciplined when working on Don’t Let Me Down, which was by this time close to its final arrangement. During the day’s first attempt, however, Lennon inserted a segment from Happiness Is A Warm Gun.

I’ve Got A Feeling and Two Of Us were other Let It Be songs which were worked on during this day, and the group resurrected One After 909 for the first time since 1963. They also played several other early Lennon-McCartney compositions, including Won’t You Please Say Goodbye, Thinking Of Linking, I’ll Wait Till Tomorrow and Because I Know You Love Me So.

George Harrison led the group through Marvin Gaye’s Hitch Hike and Larry Williams’ Short Fat Fannie, and Lennon and McCartney sang a version of Midnight Special. Lennon also played two original songs, Sun King and Gimme Some Truth, both of which would receive further work during January 1969.

The Beatles played a total of 37 versions of All Things Must Pass on this day, although they struggled to find a satisfactory arrangement. It was worked on again in January and February, but remained unreleased until Harrison re-recorded it for 1970′s triple album of the same name.

The day ended with a number of attempts at Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. A sequence of McCartney calling out the chords while teaching the song to the others was included in the Let It Be film. The Beatles spent considerable time working on the song during these sessions, although it was later remade for Abbey Road.

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 2 (UC-127/8)

Disc 1 January 6th, 1969 (65:01):  Roll 61B Slate 60 – 16:08 (Dialogue / Oh! darling / Dialogue),  Roll 62B Slate 62 – 15:52 (I’ve Got A Feeling / Dialogue / Carry That Weight / Instrumental / Improvisation / Unknown / My Imagination), Roll 63B Slate 72 – 16:09 (I’m Talking ’bout You / Dialogue), Roll 64B Slate 75 – 16:50 (Instrumental / Improvisation / Money / Fools Like Me / Don’t Let Me Down)

Disc 2 January 6th, 1969 (62:13):  Roll 65B Slate 80 – 16:13 (Don’t Let Me Down / Dialogue / Don’t Let Me Down),  Roll 66B Slate 85 – 15:37 (Don’t Let Me Down / Dialogue / Don’t Let Me Down),  Roll 67B Slate 87 – 16:07 (Two Of Us / Dialogue), Roll 68B Slate 87 – 14:15 (Dialogue / Two Of Us)

Following a weekend break, The Beatles’ sessions and rehearsals for the Get Back/Let It Be project resumed on 6 January 1969.

This was the third day for the project, and was made up of various jams, cover versions, improvisations, and attempts at recording the more complete songs. There was also a great deal of conversation and bickering between the group members.

The songs which received the most attention were Don’t Let Me Down and Two Of Us. Various arrangements of the former were tested, including a Latin-style rhythm and some harmony vocals by Paul McCartney in the middle section.

Two Of Us was, at this stage, more of a straightforward rock song than in its final incarnation. During rehearsals for it, a terse exchange took place between McCartney and George Harrison which was included in the Let It Be film, and which seemed to encapsulate the strained relations within the group at the time.

The Beatles evidently lacked enthusiasm for a new Harrison song, Hear Me Lord, which its composer first performed acoustically, then on an electric guitar with a wah-wah pedal. He also attempted to enthuse the group in his All Things Must Pass, but to little effect.

Carry That Weight, later to feature on Abbey Road, made its debut on this day, and featured a bridge which was omitted in the final version. Also making first appearances were Octopus’s Garden and For You Blue, both of which were brief, incomplete performances.

John Lennon, doubtless aware that his songwriting rate had slowed dramatically since the completion of the White Album, revived Across The Universe – a song the group had recorded early in 1968 but which remained unreleased.

One After 909 had first been revived on 3 January, and made a reappearance on this day.

Notable among the improvisations and jams were The Palace Of The King Of The Birds, a McCartney instrumental recorded years later for the unreleased Rupert The Bear album. It featured blues-style guitar and a flowing organ part. He also sang a blues improvisation, You Wear Your Women Out, and did a bit of Primal Therapy-style screaming on My Imagination.

George Harrison sang a song known as Maureen, accompanied just with wah-wah guitar. He is heard to claim that Bob Dylan wrote the song, but it is otherwise unknown and may in fact have been an original composition. Harrison also suggests that it might be a suitable single for Ringo Starr.

The day ended with some lengthy rehearsals of McCartney’s new song She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 3 (UC-125/6)

Disc 1 January 6th, 1969 (55:30): Roll 69B Slate 92 – 16:19 (All Things Must Pass / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window), Roll 70B Slate 96 – 7:09 (She Came In Through The Bathroom Window / Dialogue).  Janury 7th, 1969:  Roll 71B Slate 100 – 15:55 (Dialogue / Improvisation / Lowdown Blues Machine / Get Back / Dialogue / Get Back / Dialogue), Roll 72B Slate 106 – 16:05 (Dialogue / Improvisation / I’ve Got A Feeling)

Disc 2 January 7th, 1969 (64:39):  Roll 73B Slate 108 – 16:27 (I’ve Got A Feeling / Woman, Where You Been So Long / Oh Julie, Julia), Roll 74B Slate 112 – 16:05 (Oh! Darling / The Long And Winding Road / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer), Roll 75B Slate 112 – 16:02 (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer / When I’m 64 / Oh! Darling / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer), Roll 76B Slate 119 – 16:03 (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer / Dialogue /Improvisation / Across The Universe)

The fourth day of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions was a somewhat typical blend of original song rehearsals, unstructured jamming and randomly-chosen cover versions.

The day saw the first appearance of Get Back, which would soon become the focus of much of The Beatles’ attentions. At this stage, however, it was lacking most of its final lyrics in the verses.

Although it was later held over for the Abbey Road album, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer also made an appearance on this day. It had first been put forward on 3 January, and again on 10 January, but The Beatles’ lack of enthusiasm towards it was clear.

They also performed early versions of Golden Slumbers and She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, and Lennon led the group through three versions of Gimme Some Truth, a song which he’d later record for 1971′s Imagine album.

In the previous day’s session, John Lennon had once again attempted to interest the group in Across The Universe, which they had recorded in February 1968. Nearly a year on, and Lennon struggled to remember the words, and the performance lacked the elegantly light touch that the earlier recording had.

Much of 7 January was spent on I’ve Got A Feeling and Don’t Let Me Down, which had been earmarked early on during the Twickenham sessions as contenders for the mooted live performance. At this stage the songs weren’t developing significantly, but were instead being rehearsed multiple times until The Beatles were happy they were familiar with the structure.

Other notable performances included a spirited rendition of Chuck Berry’s Rock And Roll Music, first recorded by The Beatles in 1964, and an almost-complete version of Carl Perkins’ Gone, Gone, Gone. Little Richard’s Lucille and Ray Charles’ What’d I Say were also tackled with conviction, but were both abandoned before being seen through to completion.

More successful was a revisit of the Lennon-McCartney composition One After 909. This latter song had been recorded at EMI way back on 5 March 1963, and had been performed again on the 3 and 6 January 1969 sessions, with The Beatles evidently thinking it a possible live contender. Here it was close to its final Let It Be incarnation, although without Billy Preston’s electric piano.

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 4 (UC-127/8)

Disc 1 January 7th, 1969 (57:47):  Roll 77B Slate 124 – 16:24 (Across The Universe / A Case Of The Blues /Gimme Some Truth / Across The Universe /Rock And Roll Music),  Roll 78B Slate 124 – 16:10 (Lucille / Across The Universe / Gone Gone Gone / Dig A Pony / One after 909 / Don’t Let Me Down), Roll 79B Slate 128 – 11:06 (Don’t Let Me Down / Thirty Days / Improvisation / Across The Universe / School Day / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window).  January 8th 1969:  Roll 80B – 14:07 (I Me Mine / Dialogue / I Me Mine / Dialogue / I Me Mine)

Disc 2 January 8th, 1969 (63:31):  Roll 81B Slate 135 – 16:16 (Dialogue / Improvisation / Piano Improvisation /Early In The Morning / Hi Ho Silver / Hare Krishna / Two Of Us / Don’t Let Me Down), Roll 82B Slate 138 – 16:18 (I’ve Got A Feeling / Dialogue / All Things Must Pass), Roll 83B Slate 144 – 14:43 (All Things Must Pass / Fools Like Me / You Win Again / Improvisation / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window / Boogie Woogie), Roll 75A – 16:13 (She Came In Through The Bathroom Window / Ba Ba Blacksheep / Improvisation)

he fifth day of The Beatles’ rehearsals for the Get Back/Let It Be project found them continue work on the stronger songs, and test out arrangements on a number of others.

The early part of the day saw run-throughs of Two Of Us, Don’t Let Me Down, I’ve Got A Feeling and One After 909, all songs which made it onto vinyl. The Beatles were in reasonably high spirits at this point, playing through the songs with enthusiasm which was sadly lacking elsewhere for much of January 1969.

The momentum noticeably flagged when the group performed George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, which the other Beatles had remained unenthusiastic towards. Equally aimless were versions of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, songs which The Beatles would return to with greater focus later in 1969.

Another Abbey Road song making its debut on this day was Mean Mr Mustard. John Lennon had recorded a demo of the song in May 1968, but it was not considered for the White Album. On this day The Beatles performed a rough version which wasn’t much different from the final release, although in the lyrics Pam was known as Shirley.

Another Harrisong, I Me Mine, received more attention, with the group playing a total of 41 versions, although more often than not these were incomplete. This was the only day in January 1969 that The Beatles played it; although it was discussed in subsequent days, there was little inclination to return to it after this.

George Harrison had written I Me Mine the night before, and it began as a plain acoustic song. The Let It Be film showed some footage of The Beatles working on the song on this day, but the album version was a re-recording made in January 1970.

Two songs by Paul McCartney, Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road, had by this stage been established as proper contenders deserving sustained work. McCartney had by now completed writing both songs, so much of his efforts were devoted to helping the rest of the group learn the chord changes and arrangements.

Of the cover versions and improvisations, there was little from this day that was noteworthy, most of them being brief renditions in between proper rehearsals. Two early Lennon-McCartney compositions – Too Bad About Sorrows and Just Fun – were performed, but each lasted just seconds.

After Two Bad About Sorrows, however, Lennon made the remark: “Queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members”. This was included on the Let It Be album prior to For You Blue, and was the only piece of audio recorded at Twickenham to be used on the record; everything else was recorded either at Apple Studios or Abbey Road.

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 5 (UC-129/130)

Disc 1 January 8th, 1969 (64:55):  Roll 84B Slate 148 – 16:00 (Improvisation / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer / I Me Mine), Roll 85B Slate 152 – 16:04 (I Me Mine / Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! /Oh! Darling / Let It Be / I Me Mine), Roll 86B Slate 154 – 16:20 (Dialogue / I me Mine / The Long And Winding Road / I Me Mine), Roll 87B Slate 161 – 16:29 (I Me Mine / The Long And Winding Road / Dialogue / The Long And Winding Road)

Disc 2 January 8th, 1969 (55:43):  Roll 88B Slate 166 – 16:14 (The Long And Winding Road / Dialogue /Let It Be / To Kingdom Come / Dialogue), Roll 89B Slate 166 – 6:40 (Dialogue).  January 9th, 1969:  Roll 90B Slate 169 – 16:23 (Dialogue / Another Day / Dialogue / Instrumental / Let It Be / The Long And Winding Road), Roll 91B Slate 171 – 16:24 (Let It Be / Her Majesty / Golden Slumbers /Carry That Weight / The Long And Winding Road / Dialogue)

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 6 (UC-131/132)

Disc 1 January 9th, 1969 (64:45):  Roll 92B Slate 171 – 16:15 (The Long And Winding Road / Dialogue /The Long And Winding Road / Oh! Darling /Instrumental), Roll 93B Slate 171 – 16:16 (Instrumental / For You Blue / Dialogue), Roll 94B Slate 172 – 16:07 (For You Blue / Dialogue / Improvisation / Two Of Us), Roll 95B Slate 172 – 16:06 (Two Of us / Dialogue / Two Of Us)

Disc 2 January 9th, 1969 (63:51):  Roll 97B Slate 179 – 16:13 (I’ve Got A Feeling / One After 909 / Norwegian Wood / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window / Be Bop A Lula / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window), Roll 98B Slate 182 – 15:10 (Unknown / Get Back / Let It Be / Instrumental), Roll 99B Slate 185 – 16:09 (Instrumental / Across The Universe / Shakin’ In The 60′s / Good Rockin’ Tonight / Tennessee / House Of The Rising Sun / Commonwealth / Get Off!), Roll 100B Slate 188 – 16:17 (Get Off! / Yakety Yak / Hi Ho Silver / For You Blue / Quit Your Messing Around / Ramblin Woman / I Threw It All Away / Mama You Been On My Mind)

The sixth day of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions began with Paul McCartney working alone on a number of songs.

McCartney was the first of The Beatles to arrive at Twickenham Film Studios, and he used the time alone to perform several songs at the piano. Making their debuts on this day were Her Majesty and Another Day, the latter becoming his first solo single in 1971.

Also performed was another version of The Palace Of The King Of The Birds, an instrumental McCartney recorded years later for the unreleased Rupert The Bear album which he had first played on 6 and 7 January.

Once the other Beatles arrived, work continued on several key songs, among them I’ve Got A Feeling, One After 909 and Two Of Us.

George Harrison’s For You Blue had also been played on 6 and 7 January, but on this day it became more of a beefier rocker than in its initial incarnations. Less serious were performances of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window and Across The Universe, which featured The Beatles trying various non-serious arrangements and making several jokey lyrical changes and asides.

Let It Be was given more focused attention, and was played a total of 16 times. These performances were led by McCartney, who called out suggestions as the others played. John Lennon was on bass guitar for this part of the day, as the group were intending to record no overdubs and McCartney was at the piano.

At this stage of the Twickenham rehearsals, Get Back was a driving rock song with half-written lyrics about Theresa and Joe. At one point McCartney improvised some words (“Don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs”; “Don’t need no Puerto Ricans living in the USA”) which later led to accusations of racism after the tapes were bootlegged. It is clear, however, that he was parodying right-wing attitudes held by many in Britain in the late 1960s, including the Conservative Party politician Enoch Powell.

Another song, Commonwealth, was a 1950s-style rock ‘n’ roll performance with McCartney singing in an Elvis style. This, too, touched upon the themes of immigration and racism expressed earlier in the day. Another rocker, Suzy’s Parlour, was included in the Let It Be film, although it was mistitled as Suzy Parker when copyrighted.

Teddy Boy, Junk and Penina were all McCartney compositions, and were given brief outings on this day. The latter was recorded by Carlos Mendes for a 1969 single, and only Teddy Boy was returned to during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions.

As was customary, numerous 1950s and ’60s oldies were performed, most of which were throwaway efforts. Honey Hush was perhaps the most cohesive, but Good Rockin’ Tonight and Tennessee suffered from misremembered vocals and hillbilly-style vocals respectively.

Harrison performed solo acoustic versions of Bob Dylan’s Mama, You Been On My Mind and the as-yet-unreleased I Threw It All Away, although his vocals were barely audible due to bad microphone placement. He also played a Dylanesque new composition, which was never developed further but was titled Ramblin’ Woman by bootleggers.

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 7 (UC-133/134)

Disc 1 January 9th, 1969 (64:31):  Roll 101B Slate 188 – 15:48 (Let It Be / Dialogue / That’ll Be The Day / Slipin’ And Slidin’ / Let It Be), Roll 102B Slate 188 – 16:15 (Let It Be), Roll 103B Slate 195 – 16:10 (Let It Be / Dialogue).  January 10th 1969:  Roll 104B Slate 198 – 16:18 (Dialogue / Improvisation / The Long And Winding Road / Let It Be / Don’t Let Me Down / The Long And Winding Road)

Disc 2 January 10th, 1969 (65:15):  Roll 105B Slate 198 – 16:23 (Improvisation / Get Back / I’ve Got A Feeling / Dialogue / Get Back / I’ve Got A Feeling (Improvisation), Roll 106B Slate 202 – 16:28 (I’ve Got A Feeling (Improvisation) / Get Back / Hi Heel Sneakers), Roll 107B Slate 202 – 16:11 (Get Back / Two Of Us / Talking About You / Dialogue), Roll 108B Slate 267 – 16:13 (A Quick One / Improvisation /I’ve Got A Feeling)

Just as Ringo Starr had temporarily quit The Beatles in August 1968, George Harrison walked out on this day, unable to tolerate any longer the tensions within the group.

The Beatles were at Twickenham Film Studios, where their rehearsals were being captured on camera. The day began with Paul McCartney working alone at a piano, playing through a number of songs that the group had been working on during the previous week. These included solo versions of I’ve Got A Feeling and Get Back, which were usually performed with guitars.

The Beatles, still as a group, worked hard on Get Back during the morning. McCartney still hadn’t finalised the lyrics, but Tucson, Arizona was emerging as a setting. For one run-through John Lennon took the lead vocals.

After several attempts at working Get Back into shape, The Beatles moved onto Two Of Us. After breaking for lunch, however, George Harrison walked out of the studio, telling the other Beatles that he’d “see them round the clubs”.

Whether in denial or disbelief, the remaining three Beatles carried on rehearsing without Harrison. Just as they’d worked on Back In The USSR and Dear Prudence without Starr, here John Lennon led the others through The Who’s A Quick One, While He’s Away – the title a clear reference to Harrison. At one point he was heard to sarcastically call out “OK George, take it!”

Yoko Ono positioned herself on Harrison’s blue cushion, and wailed over the top of a series of barely-listenable, blues-based jams. The three Beatles joined together in the harshness of the music, possibly finding it cathartic amid the uncertainty of the day.

The aggressive tone carried through to the proper work, when it continued. The group performed jagged versions of I’ve Got A Feeling and Don’t Let Me Down, with Lennon screaming during parts of the latter. He also sang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer in an exaggerated German accent.

After some half-hearted runs through cover versions The Beatles largely stopped work to discuss the future of the Get Back project with the crew, although McCartney returned to his piano. As he did, Yoko Ono began wailing to his accompaniment, seemingly oblivious to the tensions in the room.

The Nagra reel-to-reel tapes that were recording audio for the cameras captured Lennon in conversation with director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Lennon at one point suggested replacing Harrison with Eric Clapton if he didn’t return within a few days.

A series of jams took place towards the end of the day, again with Ono moaning or screaming largely wordless vocals. Finally, McCartney moved to drums, Lennon played guitar and Starr took the microphone for some improvised spoken lines, words which summed up their aimless desperation at this time.

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 8 (UC-135/136)

Disc 1 January 10th, 1969 (64:57):  Roll 109B Slate 209 – 16:11 (Don’t Let Me Down / C’Mon Everybody /Maxwell’s Silver Hammer / Groovin’ /Through A London Window / Dialogue), Roll 110B – 16:21 (Dialogue / The Long And Winding Road /Adagio For Strings / Martha My Dear), Roll 111B Slate 213 – 16:09 (Martha My Dear / Improvisation).  January 13th, 1969:  Roll 113B Slate 219 – 16:14 (Dialogue)

Disc 2 January 13th, 1969 (65:02):  Roll 114B Slate 220 – 16:11 (Dialogue), Roll 115B Slate 221 – 16:38 (Dialogue / Obla-Di Obla-Da / Sleep On, Otis), Roll 116B Slate 224 – 16:09 (Dialogue), Roll 117B Slate 228 – 16:02 (Dialogue)

Twelve Days At Twickenham Vol. 9 (UC-137/138)

Disc 1 January 13th, 1969 (64:40):  Roll 118B Slate 230 – 16:15 (Dialogue), Roll 119B Slate 231 – 16:04 (Dialogue / Instrumental), Roll 120B Slate 233 – 16:11 (Dig A Pony / Instrumental / Dig A Pony / Get Back / Improvisation / Get Back), Roll 121B Slate 235 – 6:03 (Dialogue).  January 14th, 1969:  Roll 121B Slate 239 – 10:05 (Talking Blues / Woman / Back Seat Of My Car)

Disc 2 January 14th, 1969 (55:49):  Roll 122B Slate 239 – 16:02 (Song Of Love / Dialogue), Roll 123B Slate 243 – 16:05 (Dialogue), Roll 124B Slate 243 – 15:49 (Dialogue), Roll 125B Slate 246 – 7:52 (Dialogue / Oh! Darling)

The Beatles had met at Ringo Starr’s house over the previous weekend in an attempt to resolve the issues that had led to George Harrison walking out of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions.

The meeting was not a success, but in the absence of any other ideas, the three remaining Beatles regrouped at Twickenham Film Studios to continue work on the project.

Unsurprisingly, Harrison didn’t show up, and John Lennon too was absent for much of the day. The bulk of the recordings made, therefore, featured conversations rather than music, and reveal much about the prevailing thoughts within the group at the time. A lunchtime conversation, in particular, has proved particularly valuable in understanding how McCartney, Starr and Lennon were feeling.

Lennon is heard wondering aloud whether he wants Harrison to be a part of the group any more, and agrees with McCartney that he had drifted away from the others in recent months. McCartney, ever the diplomat, admits that there had been a pecking order since they were school-age, and that he and Lennon had always been The Beatles’ leaders.

Lennon admits that their music has become formulaic, and contrasts it with the excitement of making Revolver in 1966. Presciently, he remarks that the only challenge left for them is to go solo, although he is uncertain about stepping away from The Beatles.

McCartney offers encouraging phrases towards Lennon and Starr, and says they should stop worrying about minor details in the songs and concentrate instead on performing to the best of their abilities. He also wonders what would be the best way to steer Harrison towards a particular way of playing.

The day also allowed Lennon and Paul McCartney to refine some of their songs, particularly Get Back. McCartney settled on Tucson, Arizona for Jo Jo’s hometown, and Harrison’s absence allowed Lennon greater freedom to work up some lead guitar parts.

The three Beatles spent another day at Twickenham before giving up and relocating to Apple Studios in London.

The ninth day of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions was the second full one without George Harrison, who had walked out of Twickenham Film Studios on 10 January 1969.

It was clear by this stage that The Beatles were unable to function in any meaningful way as a trio, and motivation and inspiration hit a low mark on this day. As with other Twickenham rehearsals, it began with Paul McCartney working alone at a piano, although there is little of the energetic enthusiasm which he brought to the earlier days.

Once John Lennon and Ringo Starr had arrived, they performed a mix of improvised songs, golden oldies and original compositions, as had become customary in these sessions. One of the songs was Woman, the McCartney song given in 1966 to Peter & Gordon, which had the only known Beatles performance on this day. Another was The Back Seat Of My Car, later to be one of the highlights of McCartney’s 1971 album Ram.

A piano boogie duet featuring McCartney and Starr was included in the Let It Be film, and was copyrighted Jazz Piano Song by Apple. Of the other tracks, Madman and Watching Rainbows were Lennon compositions which was taken no further, although Madman was performed again at Apple Studios on 21 January. Lennon also played a brief version of You Know My Name (Look Up The Number), the still-unreleased song which The Beatles began recording in May 1967.

This was followed by a discussion about the future. Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg asked if they should relocate the filming to EMI Studios and abandon the idea of a live show, but Lennon explained that any decisions should be made with Harrison, who was in Liverpool.

The day ended with McCartney alone at the piano, performing Oh! Darling and a brief version of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, for Glyn Johns to test the audio equipment.

On this day Lennon and Ono were also interviewed by a reporter from Canada’s CBC-TV. It took place around midday and lasted for 30 minutes, and has since become known as the Two Junkies interview.

Lennon was clearly withdrawing from heroin as the interview progressed, growing paler and more restless. Eventually he said “Excuse me, I feel a bit sick” and the camera was turned off. The second half of the conversation was noticeably livelier, and Lennon discussed live performances, inspiration, and the couple’s future plans.

An extract from the Two Junkies interview was used in the 1998 documentary Imagine: John Lennon, in which Lennon discussed being counted both out and in on Revolution 1.

The Beatles held a meeting on the following day, 15 January 1969, and agreed to Harrison’s demands to move the sessions from Twickenham to Apple’s headquarters in Savile Row, London. These began a week later, on 21 January, in higher spirits and willing to continue with the Let It Be project.

The set Includes a 12 page booklet with an updated review of the “History Of ‘Get Back’ Bootleg” as released In the accompanying booklet Included In Vigotone’s Get Back Journals II 8CD box set.  This also includes pictures from the original Get Back book plus tracklistings with cover pictures of the CD set.  The CD cases are housed in an attractive looking slipcase card cover.

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The Beatles - Twelve Days At Twickenham (Unicorn Records UC-125/127/129/131/133/135/137/139/141), 2.6 out of 5 based on 8 ratings

3 Comments

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  1. Avatar of hcooper
    hcooper says
    November 1, 2011, 9:41 am

    agreed ridware, though it looks a great set, what’s new, if anything?

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  2. Avatar of mats22
    mats22 says
    October 5, 2011, 12:59 pm

    Thanks a lot for your great review! It was very interesting to read the whole story of these legendary tapes. I’ve got the 8 disc version from 1999 (The Twickenham sessions).

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  3. Avatar of ridware
    ridware says
    October 5, 2011, 12:52 pm

    Thanks for this very interesting and detailed get back history.
    but its not clear if this new unicorn set contains anything not already released by vigotone/yellow dog etc
    if there is, which is new?
    if not it would be good to know which sets from the various labels make a comprehensive set from all the sets in circulation.

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