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The Beatles – Where Are We Going, Boys? (Godfather Records GR675)

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 Where Are We Going, Boys?  (Godfather Records GR675)

Decca Studios,West Hampstead, London, England – January 1st, 1962

(35:03):  Money (That’s What I Want), The Sheik Of Araby, Memphis Tennessee, Three Cool Cats, Sure To Fall (In Love With You), September In The Rain, Take Good Care Of My Baby, Till There Was You, Crying Waiting Hoping, To Know Her Is To Love Her, Besame Mucho, Searchin’, Like Dreamers Do, Hello Little Girl, Love Of The Loved

Where Are We Going, Boys? is the latest Beatle release on the Godfather label, documenting the “Decca” audition tape.  Professionally recorded on New Year’s Day in 1962, the band (with Pete Best on drums at this point) recorded a half hour’s worth of music including three original Lennon / McCartney tunes, “Like Dreamers Do”,”Hello Little Girl” and “Love Of The Loved.”  

As the liner notes point out, “the released history of the Decca sessions has a checkered past.”  They first came out in 1976 on the Deccagone label “as a series of brightly colored singles each with their own picture sleeve via the Joe Pope fanzine ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.” 

The songs, minus the originals, turned up on The Complete Silver Beatles on Audio Fidelity in 1982, promoted by none other than Pete Best himself.  In the ensuing years they came out again through other labels such as Masterdisk, Vigotone and Yellow Dog.  Five of the recordings, “Searchin’,” “Three Cool Cats,” “The Sheik Of Araby,” “Like Dreamers Do”and “Hello Little Girl” were included on Anthology 1 released in 1995.  Although they were remastered and pitch corrected, they all came from the Pope singles.

The source that the Don has used was from a copy of a DAT that Joe made the singles from therefore being one step closer to the source than the vinyl, making it more clear and enjoyable than other releases.  (On January 1st, 2012 the DAT Joe used will be released which is claimed to sound better than this tape.  But we have our doubts).

This tape has entered pop mythology.  According to the notes, they were “famously recorded on the 1st of January 1962 under the supervision of producer Mike Smith who had ventured up to the Cavern, Liverpool in December 1961 to check out the bands live show & to see if he could hear what Brian Epstein, Tony Barrow (music editor for the Liverpool Echo) & Dick Rowe (Decca’s A&R chief) could hear when listening to the Tony Sheridan ‘My Bonnie’ single.

“Brian quickly arranged a set list of songs that the band had played a thousand times in Hamburg, a couple of Lennon / McCartney originals & a few other oddities brought in to sweeten up the package & show off the broad range of styles that the Beatles had learned to play towards. 

“The fabs were driven down to London on New Years Eve by their friend & nominated chauffeur Neil Aspinall who, as luck might have it, managed to lose his way & so a normal journey that may have taken around 3 – 4 hours usually took around 10 hours in the end.

“Unfortunately, as we now know, the Beatles were let down gently by Decca with the suggestions that ‘guitar groups were on their way out’ & most damningly that ‘The Beatles have no future in show business.’

“EMI’s rejection was not to be the end the The Beatles of course & they would be snapped up only a few months later by an EMI subsidiary Parlophone who were mainly known for their Jazz output as well as one of producer George Martin’s specialties spoken word & comedy recordings.”

Much of the Beatles’ influence on pop culture was to “democratize” (or, some would argue, bourgeoisification) music, to show that anyone could write, perform, and be a viable artist.  Many artists point to the Beatles as the reason why they wanted to be a pop star in the first place.  And it’s important that, as great as the Beatles became, they too had to struggle at first and were turned down many times (even by EMI).  

But another narrative the tape exemplifies is the tragedy of letting something precious and valuable getting away.  Dick Rowe would forever be known as the one who couldn’t spot talent when he saw it with the Beatles, a mark he couldn’t escape even though he signed The Rolling Stones.  

Where Are We Going, Boys? is a curious piece of pop history.  The playing is good, but certainly not great and one could understand the band’s rejection by Decca.  For Beatle fans this is a great sounding, beautifully packed release worth having for it’s historic import.   

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The Beatles - Where Are We Going, Boys? (Godfather Records GR675), 2.3 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

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