The Beatles, ‘Lady Madonna / Hey Bulldog’ (TMOQ Gazette / HMC 041)
Lady Madonna (1968 Promo version 1 – Europe) / Lady Madonna (1968 Promo version 1 – US) / Lady Madonna (1996 Anthology Edit) / Lady Madonna (1996 Promo) / Hey Bulldog (1999 promo) / Hey Bulldog (1999 EPK) / Hey Bulldog (2013 – Fan Re-edit) / Hey Bulldog (2016 Fan Re-edit) / Hey Bulldog (More Performance Edit) / Hey Bulldog (Outtakes-Only edit) / Complete Recreated Filling Session with bonus audio track
CD; Lady Madonna (Studio Goofing) / Lady Madonna – Take 2 Backing Track / Lady Madonna – Take 3 Backing Track / Lady Madonna – Take 4 / Lady Madonna – Take 5 / Lady Madonna – Takes 3,4 & 5 Isolations / Lady Madonna – Brass Overdub Track / Lady Madonna – Vocal Overdub Track / Lady Madonna – Anthology Mix / Lady Madonna – Mono Mix / She Can Talk To Me – Demo / Hey Bulldog – Studio Chatter 1 / Hey Bulldog – Studio Chatter 2 / Hey Bulldog – Pretake & Early Backing Tracks / Hey Bulldog – Final Backing Track / Hey Bulldog – 1st Vocal Overdub / Hey Bulldog – 2nd Vocal Overdub / Hey Bulldog – Backing Track With Inst. Overdub / Hey Bulldog – Mono Mix / Hey Bulldog – Rockband Mix / Hey Bulldog – Yellow Submarine BluRay Mix / Hey Bulldog – Piano & Drums Isolation / Hey Bulldog – Bass & Guitar Isolation / Hey Bulldog – Lead Vocal Isolation / Hey Bulldog – Backing Vocal & Guitar Isolation
On the 11th of February, 1968, the Beatles stepped in to Studio 2, Abbey Road to lay down both their next single, “Lady Madonna” and an unfinished track for their forthcoming soundtrack LP, ‘Yellow Submarine’. Originally composed as a paean to Yoko Ono by John as “She Can Talk To Me”, the track slowly evolved in to “Hey Bullfrog” for the film before then changing i to “Hey Bulldog” after Paul decided that he’d rather drop in barking noises instead. Despite it’s ridicules lyrics almost being tossed off, this nonsensical children’s song was one of the stronger efforts on the album (Alongside George’s “It’s All Too Much”, leaving only another two brand new compositions and George Martin’s orchestral scores. )
On this day, the cameras were also allowed in to the studio for the purpose of capturing the Fabs at work, ultimately for the forthcoming single, a video which would take up the promotion while the Beatles went on a planned trip to Rishikesh for four months to meditate and learn about trancendental meditation. Recording took in around 20 minutes of studio time all in all, despite the intention though, none of the ‘Lady Madonna’ recording sessions were captured and the promo was made up of snippets of silent footage from the recording of “Hey Bulldog” instead. (More about the reasons for which can be found in the accompanying gazette.)
HMC seem to have managed to procure all of the footage from this session and have compiled all of it in to one easy to handle set. The DVD, in specific, features the various promos from throughout the years – Beginning with the “Lady Madonna” films, then the ‘lost’ footage that was used for “Hey Bulldog”’s eventual release in 1999 in support of the remixed ‘Yellow Submarine Soundtrack’. Firstly, we have the European version in fantastic quality, the US version, also in topnotch visual clarity – Not a great deal of difference as they both feature the same film clips really but the US version leads out with the Beatles packing up and heading home, the UK version ends to the quasi fly’s eye trickery. But it is worth mentioning that this is the best quality these “original” films have ever circulated in and they are not low-resolution internet downloads.
The 1996 Anthology version includes more of the ‘White Album’ clips that were featured in HMC’s ‘Hey Jude’ / ‘Revolution’ release, this also ends with the packing up and heading home clips, the 1996 promo, while slightly different again, also uses the ‘White Album’ clips but adds sound to the closing of the studio at the end.
Somewhat strangly, the 1999 promo for ‘Hey Bulldog’ features a downgrade in visuals – Maybe by this time, the film that had been used had gone missing and so what was left was used by Apple to compile this new film from slightly blurry footage. The EPK comes complete with the station clapperboard (or at least it’s 90’s equivalent) – It also features a wider stereo sound making it sound less full than the previous videos output. We also have the benefit of the Threetles talking about the track. George has the least to say, Paul rhapsodises lyrical about the work and in turn, bigs up his own contribution – As well he might too!
The two fan re-edit videos embrace different elements from the video shoot – the 2013 version is a little fuzzier than the latter, using a less spacious audio mix than the 2016 version which has much more separation on the music and the instruments. The 2016 version also uses much better video in contrast.
The ‘More Performance’ edit makes attempts at making the music video that the Beatles should have made in the studio using the various clips and edits from the day all synched up with the CV and it does a very, very good job of splicing the commercial video up with newly found outtakes – quality obviously varies a little among the sources, between sharp and soft but in accounting to what goes on in the recording, it is synched brilliantly. The same goes for the ‘outtake’ only video, though this shows more of what the band wouldn’t want you to see – more empty plates and Ringo attempting to look happy as he’s pushed out of his drumming console.
The star of this collection though is the 20 minute compilation of outtake shots – more George eating beans on toast (Were you ever curious as to what THAT looked like), Ringo playing with a part from his drum kit and attempting to steer it around, the band running through the actual takes of the track – and because this is silent footage, it is all soundtracked by various Kenny Everett interviews with the Beatles from circa ’68 – I joked that none of us might really be able to cope with 20 odd minutes of ‘Hey Bulldog’ chopped in to fit and in the absence of any real outtakes or monitor mixes to add any difference – the interviews work well against the visuals – or the mute button is there if you prefer. (There is one moment when George picks up a cup on the video as someone puts down a cup on the audio which is perfectly synched.)
The visuals are obviously choppy, sometimes a little ‘Super-8’ but the bulk of the material is extremely favourable quality and as crisp as you’d want from the Anthology selection. Assuming that the compilers didn’t have the reels in sequential boxes, we’re left to guess in what order this video was actually shot in. An absolutely fantastic scene though it loses the walking out of the studio clip, it’s featured a few other times on this comp and will no doubt be reinstated as other desktop bootleggers have a go at editing this footage.
The CD with this selection will not be new to the Beatles diehard fans or technology quick. A mixture of already released outtakes, demos and Rockband mixes (The gift that keeps on giving) – I was pleasantly pleased as to hear it all in once collection as it’s a nice little grouping of these sessions – Studio tomfoolery mixed with studio sessions and, yep, those stripped down mixes. If you’re looking for something brand new, it’s not here, but it is convenient to have everything pertaining to the sound and visuals of these two songs in the best quality and in one nice, neat little package.
The packaging is the standard HMC gazette, a full colour revue of rare photos, screen grabs and write up about what we’re about to view or listen to – slightly more entertaining than the CD for some, I guess but one of the best additions to HMCs sets as usual as their history and background is very, very well written.
For the first, you don’t need me to tell you that this DVD is a must – the CD you could take or leave and wouldn’t be out of context for a cheaper label than HMC to put out as a main draw but essentially, you need this set in your collection, period.