The Beatles, ‘1968 WABC-FM White Album Broadcast (Sam’s Goodies SG-004)
Disk One; Intro by Bob Lewis / Don’t Pass Me By / Blackbird / Good Night / Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / Rocky Raccoon / Mother Nature’s Son / Sexy Sadie / Everybody’s Got Something To Hide… / Yer Blues / Back In The USSR / Birthday / Helter Skelter (Between all songs the host of the programme Bob Lewis can be heard)
Disk Two; Hey Jude (Take 1) / Dear Prudence (Take 1) / Blackbird (Rehearsal) / Blackbird (Take 2)/Congratulations/Blackbird (Take 3) / Blackbird (Take 4, 5, 6) / Blackbird/Studio Chat/Blackbird/Studio Chat/Helter Skelter/Studio Chat/Gone Tomorrow Here Today/Studio Chat / Blackbird (Take 8) / Studio Chat / Blackbird/Improvisation/Blackbird / Blackbird/Studio Chat / Mother Nature’s Son (Outtake) / Blackbird (Take 12 / Blackbird (Take 15) / Blackbird/Frere Jacques / Blackbird/Blackbird / Blackbird (Take 23-27) / Blackbird (Take 28) / Improvisation / Blackbird (Take 29-30) / Blackbird (Take 31)
In 1968 the Beatles hugely anticipated follow-up to ‘Sergeant Peppers .. ‘ was to be released, (Can we really call ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ a new LP with a few old songs?) the self titled LP (Soon to be renamed ‘The White Album’ for easy identification and to avoid confusion with, well, with what? Everybody assumed that there must have been a simply titled, introductory album but they were cleverer than that, the fabs, this Richard Hamilton designed sleeve was high concept and dark pop art, showing the Beatles out of their Saville Row or Psychedelic suits and in to the raw.)
As the Beatles slowly fell apart like an old rubber-band, it was still in the interests of the band and their new company to boost the album through promotion.
As promotion goes however, not all of it was official. An acetate of different mixes was copied from an Apple press then run off to tape, shipped across the Atlantic then dubbed out a few times to become a low gen tape which was obtained by a handful of radio stations who balanced up their licences up against the law and decided to go for it anyway. This – as untitled – record by the worlds hottest band was about to be heard by listeners of WABC (Or ‘WABeatleC’ as it was dubbed at the height of Beatle-mania), WABX (Detroit) and (Possibly) KRLA (California) as someone on the Hoffman boards remembers it.
This tape is as it was discovered in 2008 and dubbed from the radio – it begins in stereo before, because of the strictures of the source tape and to comply with FCC regulations, the DJ, Bob Lewis or ‘Babalu’ in this case, is forced to turn his transmission in to glorious mono – For better or worse, that might make the tape a little more attractive to some listeners. The label make the honest claim that the tape is ‘Lo-Fi’ but that’s damning it before you’ve heard it – It gives the impression of listening to an actual pirate broadcast of the time – because of the brevity of the single sided test pressing, Sam’s Goodies have left in the DJ chatter between the tracks – Most is made of this as the discussion is essentially made up of hypothesis and conjecture as information handed over with the tape is sparse (This includes the fact that one of the songs has the title, “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Donkey”.) Babalu also connects over the tracks leaving little space for them to be copied by other stations and played there after this exclusive.
Of the ‘alternates’, there are a couple which are of a difference, Ringo’s vocals are slightly higher on ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ and the outro appears a little longer (There is a skip in the middle) however, ‘Blackbird’ is sans sound effects but is in effect the “Anthology” version, ‘Ob La Di, Ob La Da’ begins with a couple of seconds of studio chatter and a false start, ‘Birthday’ features nothing more than a louder guitar mix (This could be because of the mono fold-down though and is completley conjective), ‘Helter Skelter’ has a stray guitar note at the beginning (A shame that this is almost obliterated by Babalu’s narration) but the most prominent change is the coda to ‘Sexy Sadie’ which features a looped coda towards the end rather than the whispish organ churn of the original. The rest of the tracks – “Good Night”, “Rocky Raccoon”, “Mother Nature’s Son”, “Yer Blues” and “Back In The USSR” and sound pretty much the same as their CVs. These takes have been bootlegged on various other releases and also straight from studio tape or cleaned up acetate so it goes without saying, if it’s only the music rather than the memory that’s important and you have those boots (‘The Peter Sellers tape’, ‘Primal Colours’, etc ..) you don’t need these.
The second disk features the tape that was used on Midnight Beat’s ‘Gone Tomorrow, Here Today’ (MB 113) – The main source is a promo film, recorded at Apple under the supervision on Tony Bramwell between 11 June 1968, when Paul recorded ‘Blackbird’ at Abbey Road, and the films first showing on 21 June 1968. Bramwell himself has mentioned that he believes the recording to have been captured that approximately 2 days after the studio session – so around the 13th of June.
A classic recording in Beatlegs circles, if you haven’t heard it – And if not, where have you been! – the tape comes from an exemplary source in stunning quality. It’s a shame that the footage from this day doesn’t seem to circulate too as it would certainly make for a mouthwatering DVD. Paul weaves through multiple takes of ‘Blackbird’ but also raps past acoustic versions of ‘Helter Skelter’ (Marred only by the fact that the tape runs in to conversations between John Lennon, Yoko Ono and George Martin in the control room discussing other elements of the songs on the White Album’.) , ‘Congratulations’ (Previously made famous by Cliff Richards), the unreleased song that gave the original Beatles it’s name, and ‘Mother Natures Son’. The label also included two additional tracks – Takes one of ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Dear Prudence’. ‘Hey Jude’ had not been released before this original release but ‘Dear Prudence’ is an earlier mix produced before the final mix. The tape may be a new transfer but sounds like an audio clone of the Midnight Beat CD.
The Sam’s Goodies packaging is a flimsy, foldout digi-pack. Nice but thin (I guess the label would still like to justify their mark of not being bootlegged themselves), the disks are generic but there is a nice full colour booklet inside detailing the EMI acetate that this recording may come from and it’s subsequent eBay auction values. The second half details the recording of ‘Blackbird’ and the recording of the film.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)