The Beatles, ‘Spread The Word’ (Golden Eggs EGG 155)
WKBW exclusive – One After 909 / Link Track / Don’t Let Me Down / Dig A Pony / Across The Universe / Get Back / For You Blue / Teddy Boy / Two Of Us – Maggie Mae / Dig It / Let It Be / The Long And Winding Road.
Twickenham rehearsals in stereo; Dig A Pony / Suzy Parker / I’ve Got A Feeling / Mean Mr. Mustard / Watching Rainbows / Improvisation / For You Blue / I Me Mine / Don’t Let Me Down / Dig It / ‘Goodnight’. (77:36)
Imagine a world where the Beatles Let It Be album was never produced by Phil Spector but instead the album dropped out as the piecemeal collection of clips, lovingly bolted together by Glyn Johns and with the intention of being the rehearsal album that existed without trite strings, clunky edits and things. The album that bade farewell to syrupy psychedelia and proudly presented the Beatles at their roots.
This is the question that Jason Hazeley posed on one of his appearances on the I Am The Eggpod podcasts – Asking the listener to assume that we never heard the final mixes. In a way, this is what the Golden Eggs label have asked us to assume too. This recording, taken from a taping off of radio of an broadcast of what would become the OPD bootleg, one of the most discussed illicit recordings in Beatles lore.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the WBCN broadcast as originally released in the mid-90’s by both Yellow Dog (WBCN Get Back Reference Acetate) and Vigotone (Posters, Incense and Strobe Candles), this broadcast came at around the same time but on a different station – WKBW. Based in Buffalo, the full story of how this recording was leaked can be found on the excellent Beatlessource website – Though essentially a grabbed copy of the second of Glyn Johns’ compilations made from the multi tracks that was captured at Apple studios.
This sneaky capture from the late night broadcast is like listening to the broadcast at the time – If you were stuck away in your room at the top of the house, the word on the street that your local radio station had an exclusive first play of the Beatles latest album the first since you nearly wore an extra hole in your copy of “The Beatles”.
Beginning with a slightly abbreviated ‘One After 909’, marred by a little reception fuzz and the occasional radio ident – It’s a curio as John’s vocal is almost completely obscured, it also features a few cuts to it’s presentation – All from the original source tape – Almost like the DJ kept lifting the needle from the record. The radio station go on to play the track twice before fading it out entirely.
‘Link Track’ is left intact completely before the band joke about what track they’re going to play next, John suggests ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ only for Paul to suggest, ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ which they jam along with. The station breaks for the news before ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ (it’s a shame that the taper didn’t leave that in even though nothing really happened that day).
‘Dig A Pony’ fades out quickly (though it plays for the longest amount of time) before the taper caught a broadcast of ‘Across The Universe’ and slotted it right at the end. This version is the version that features the bird noises right at the very start. There are some reception faults within the first minute too.
Back to the original broadcast, we pick back up with ‘Get Back’, because of the source, this runs a little fast and and turns down the music against Paul’s vocals. This version, while being abbreviated at the beginning, doesn’t feature the common fade out. ‘For You Blue’ is the take with two breakdowns – The first where George laughs, the second where John pleads for quiet.
‘Teddy Boy’ is the shorter of the versions at just over three minutes, it ends with Paul suggesting, in a thick scouse accent, “There’s that one for further consideration”. ‘Two Of Us’ suffers from some more of the speed problems that plague the rest of the set but is also tracked to blend in with ‘Maggie Mae’.
Another oddity is the long version of ‘Dig It’, at 5 minutes plus, lengthier than the version on the original album, this has Heather, on a rare day trip in to the studio, on some additional backing harmonies (these are very Yoko influenced!), the studio banter rather extends this as the Beatles mess about with words, John mimics the introduction that we hear for ‘Let It Be’ on the finished album before we hear take 36 of the hymnal. There after there’s a take on the track and the following song too.
The broadcast finishes on ‘The Long And Winding Road’. A version drenched in echo, pitched down by a couple of tones, leaving Paul sounding sleepily lethargic. It also lasts just over the minute mark before the announcer breaks in suggesting that’s all they have, the song comes back for it’s encore, however and finishes it’s run before there’s a few more minutes rundown of the ‘forthcoming album’.
Filling up the space left by the short broadcast, the Golden Eggs label have added a few minutes of pseudo-stereo Twickenham jams – From an early take of ‘Dig A Pony’ to the improvised rock n’ roll of ‘Suzy Parker’, a bare-bones and spirited version of ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ where they get caught in the loop of the riffs.
Being a compilation, they also feature space for a rarity or two and ‘Mean Mr. Mustard’ comes along side with the unreleased, ‘Watching Rainbows’, though listening to the half-assed and confused lyrics, you can see why John never bothered to complete much more of it.
A silly, short improv gives way to a still unfurnished version of ‘For You Blue’ which is followed by a “Spanish” styled, ‘I Me Mine’. The studio chatter afterwards gives rise to the fact that neither John or Paul seem to be particularly enamoured with George’s offering.
The musical side of the disk closes with yet another version of ‘Dig It’ – Just as silly as the other version and with possibly less function, though lesser heard than the general, nominal versions. The band then sign off with a cheery ‘Goodnight’, wrapping up the day.
These stereo takes are lovely to hear after listening to so many mono Nagra tapes for so many years – It’s amazing just how much more you can hear when you’re dropped in to the sidelines – I was pleased to hear some oc the less polished takes which will hopefully form part of the Peter Jackson documentary, though some of the gaps between the tracks mean that it’s not always a clean flow.
A very interesting time-capsule of a capture bringing back the heady days of illicit radio – The type you’d really have to scan the waves to capture. The stereo tapes nice to have while we wait for an official boxed set – Though with 56 hours to work through, hardly likely to be doubled up on. Throughly enjoyable and one disk that you’ll more than likely through on for fun