The Beatles “At Abbey Road – 1983” (His Masters Choice HMC 033)
DVD: Intro (Sir Edward Elgar and Helen Shapiro) / Love Me Do / How Do You Do It / I Saw Her Standing There / Twist and Shout / One After 909 / A Hard Days Night / Leave my Kitten Alone / I’m A Loser / She’s A Woman / Ticket To Ride / Help / Norwegian Wood / i’m Looking Through You / Paperback Writer / Rain / Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever / A Day In The Life / A Day In The Life / Hello Goodbye / Lady Madonna / Hey Jude / Hey Jude / While My Guitar Gently Weeps / Because / No. 9 Dream
Bonus Tracks; Rain / Paperback Writer / Ed Sullivan intro ’65 color / Rain color / Beatles at Abbey Road – I Should Have Known Better – And I Love Her
CD: Thank Your Lucky Stars Sketch 1 / Love Me Do (Take 18) / How Do You Do It? (Unedited mono) / I Saw Her Standing There (Takes 6, 9, 11 & 12) / Twist And Shout (Edit) / One After 909 (Take 4) / Don’t Bother Me
A Hard Day’s Night (Composite: Takes 2, 3a & 9) / Leave My Kitten Alone (Take 5) / I’m A Loser (Take 8) / She’s A Woman (Take 1) / Ticket To Ride (Take 1 & Take 2) / Help! (Take 5 – instrumental) / This Bird Has Flown (Take 1 – 10/12/65) / I’m Looking Through You (Take 1) / Paperback Writer (Take 2, RM 2) / Rain (Take 7 / RS 1) / Penny Lane (Take 9, RS1) / Strawberry Fields Forever / A Day In The Life (Takes 1, 7 & 26, Barrett mix) / Hello Goodbye (Take 22, RS 4) / Hey Jude (Take 9, incomplete) / Lady Madonna (RS from take 4) (stereo) / While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Unedited take 1) / Because (Take 16 – Barrett mix) / Thank Your Lucky Stars Sketch #2 / Octopus’ Garden / Guten Morgen, Guten Morgen
Prior to a large refurbishment in 1983, the doors of Abbey Road Studios were thrown open to the public and would feature an audio / visual experience celebrating the studios most famous recordees, fans were bundled in to studio 2 in-between new recording parts being fitted and were treated to soft drinks and biscuits as they were played a special compilation of archive video and audio – the video was rare enough but none of the audio would have been heard outside of the hallowed halls of St. Johns Wood.
This was mana for fans around the world who piled in to capture tickets, once word got around of the material that was being played, an enterprising set of young fans set about smuggling in recording equipment to try secure the audio for themselves. Such was the location of their seating and despite the quality of their mics and tapes, they wobbled out with a stunning capture of the presentation and quickly this became the standard for this recording and was subsequently bootlegged.
The HMC label have now produced a DVD / CD compilation of the Abbey Road Video Show but while it has appeared in collectors circles before, HMC have elevated the experience by including some newly sourced video material, sourced from, one assumes, a deep collectors sources.
The video begins with a brief history of Abbey Road, Studios noted in photos of it’s genesis, introduced by Sir Edward Elgar’s first recording session of ‘Pomp and Circumstance” (Or ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ if you’re British, the leads in to a roll call of the names that have recorded there (Up to 1983 of course) then video of the recording of ‘Walking Back To Hapiness’ by Helen Shapiro. We quickly move on to the main portion of the film featuring the Beatles with Paul and John’s voice from one of their Christmas recordings before we’re lead through two versions of ‘Love Me Do’, the first represented by studio shots and live performances from the fabs, then accompanied by narration over the top of the recording sessions for the song and it’s three versions, the story is retold by studio engineer, Norman Smith. We them move on to ‘How Do you Do It’ and more of Norman’s reminisces about the stereo recording techniques that the studio used.
An outtake to, ’I Saw Her Standing There’ follows with studio chat preceding it, this is take 9 – the break down – this is followed with takes 11 & 12 over footage of the Beatles in Holland with stand in, Jimmy Nicols. Live studio performances of the track are superimposed over the top.
Back to the narration, Norman recalls more of the early sessions for the ‘Please, Please Me’ LP sessions before we hear the finished take of ‘Twist And Shout’ over a live performance. We would have head for the first time then, the original version of ‘One After 909’, accompanied with studio photographs.
The “With The Beatles” sessions are touched upon next with takes 3 and 4 of ‘Don’t Bother Me’ played. Norman returns to explain how 4 track recordings came along to bring the Beatles in to the future. We skip then to the recording sessions for ‘A Hard Days Night’ as John crashes through three attempts of getting the opening chime correct. The visuals are a mixture of AHDN movie clips, the film’s premier footage and period studio shots.
We’re then told about the lack of unreleased tracks in the Beatles archives (What no, ‘What’s The New, Mary Jane’?) before the Beatles cover of ‘Leave My Kitten Alone’ is played. After this, there’s an outtake for ‘She’s A Woman’, followed by an upgrade of the outtake video (The ‘Seated’ version ) for ‘Ticket To Ride’.
Part one comes to an end with an instrumental version of ‘Help’. This features another mixture of period photos, Beatlemania shots and clips from the film through it’s duration.
The second part starts with studio chatter from the session of ‘Run For Your Life’ before the first take of ‘Norwegian Wood’ plays. The visuals are made up of clips of the fabs accepting their MBEs and the ensuing chaos outside of Buckingham Palace. We fade in to ‘I’m Looking Through you’ set to more footage of the fabs being besieged, then follows an upgraded version of the black and white studio video for ‘Paperback Writer’, followed quickly by the upgraded video for ‘Rain’ – A mixture of the park shots in colour and the black and white studio shots.
Just as quickly, we skip over to ‘Penny Lane’ and a near perfect copy of the video, suitably upgraded from the VHS that HMC have been using for the rest of the presentation. Next, one of the big catches – mixed in with scenes from the original promotional film, HMC use great quality outtakes from the field recordings of ’Strawberry Fields Forever’. There is a noticeable difference between the audio that was used for the Abbey Road presentation and the outtakes that the label have been using but if you’re happy to watch the film through your regular set up, you may not notice the dips in quality.
Straight in to ‘A Day In The Life’, this is another selection that features upgraded / new footage than works that might have seen before, the footage from the recording session having famously been recorded using a succession of super-8 footage. This features the Beatles naturally but also the folk who were in attendance at the session – various Stones, Donovan, models of the time, fans who appear to have sneaked in to the session and were hastily thrown out by security. Two different takes of the track are used – the CV and also an early take without orchestration. Thankfully, a lot of the footage is valuable unlike the ‘Help’ outtakes that were released on the grey market on VHS a few years ago, it does however, feature bit of footage involving the backstage crew – balding men in glasses wearing period clothes of the time can still be considered avant grade in a way ..
We have a selection of outtakes from the ‘Hello Goodbye’ video recordings next – these cut between the various permeations of the video first in atrocious quality (This is strictly from well work VHS standard) but at the coda, it clears up considerably and is cut up with some much better looking outtakes.
The ‘Lady Madonna’ tapes feature next but visuals are from the ‘Hey Bulldog’ recording session, also featuring some “White Album” era footage which was new to me. The same can be said of ‘Hey Jude’ which features the “Music” footage plus new visual outtakes from that session (Would a release like Midnight Beat’s ‘Gone Tomorrow, Here Today’ be out of the question?)
The quality dips back to VHS for the early take of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ – Images of George throughout his Beatles career cut along side home footage of the fabs visit to Rishikesh. ‘Because’ is visualised by footage shot for the ’Something’ promo.
The presentation ends with Ringo saying cheerio and them moves to the CV of John’s ‘No. 9 Dream’ backed with a selection of photos of Lennon through his Beatles years.
Bonus footage on the DVD comes in the form of the promo video of ‘Rain’ in variable quality. A mixture of the Chiswick footage (In colour and black and white) and the Intertel Abbey Road shoot (Take 1) mixed with the Anthology version. Unfortunately, the label chose sporadic pieces from the new footage that started to appear on the internet a couple of months ago. It’s nice to see here, but it’s not enough!
‘Paperback Writer’ is also taken from the Chiswick footage but is plundered from a FAB label DVD release. The quality is variable again here but as it’s from ‘officially released’ sources anyway, is only nice to have on siver disk.
The Ed Sullivan intro is nice to see in colour and complete but the label have made the mistake of noting it as coming from ’65 when, in fact, it’s from 1966 .. The two versions of ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Rain’ are nice enough, very good quality if a little flat looking.
“The Beatles At Abbey Road” is another FAB project – footage of the Fabs in Studio 2 and the sessions for both ‘I Should Have Known Better’ and ‘And I Love Her’ – and a mixture of sources varying between rather nice to scrappy. Nothing new here to the hardened viewer, though the audio outtakes are nice.
The CD that makes up the set is a hotchpotch of various outtakes and session takes that apes the video presentation adding a selection of previously released takes – All have been released previously but this presentation has chosen the best sounding recordings available from the Barrett tapes and also adds in the ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ sketches from TV (these are both unmusical performances), two other tracks that are not from the Barrett stash are ‘Octopuses Garden’ and “Good Morning, Good Morning’, both cobbled together from Rockband sources. Largely undesirable if you have a solid Beatles collection anyway but a nice companion to the set if you were in need of one.
While you might own the original video of the programme however, you still need it. HMC may have used a reasonably nice VHS copy, they have added oodles of extra materials building more of the story but moving some of the older material to one side. For someone who hasn’t seen the original Abbey Road show, it doesn’t really matter and so to see it for the first time, it’s a great experience. if you prefer your history unembellished however, you need both on your shelves. It is essential to your collection and hopefully, this material will keep on coming ..