The Beatles “The Fab Four Beatleg Series” (Beatleg Series 01/02/03/04)
Vol 1. The Beatles * Ob La Di – Ob La Da / Don’t Let Me Down / Midnight Special / Two Of Us
Vol 2. George Harrison * Old Brown Shoe / All Things Must Pass * Badfinger – Rock Of All Ages
Vol 3. John Lennon * Working Class Hero / Watching The Wheels / I’m Losing You
Vol 4. Paul Mccartney * For No One / I’ll Get You / I’ve Got A Feeling
Keep hold of something for long enough and it’ll come back in to fashion. Certainly a British term if ever I heard one, usually uttered as waspish wit or in self-deprecating humour.
And so it holds. As we once thought we’d seen the demise of vinyl, that CD had killed off the plastic addict and that torrents had corrupted the strength of the CD afterwards, along comes the resurgence of the vinyl record again. Currently enjoying a resurgence in the collectibility stakes, vinyl sales are rocketing, being introduced back in to record store chains and, in the U.S. in to health food stores around the magazines and muesli.
It’s not beyond any bootleggers sensibilities not to notice that while there’s still a solid CD market then the market that they sell to is also novelty and what better way to market a series of odds and ends than over a few vinyl platters and make it a series. Once upon a time we’d have been delivered a compendium of oddities such as “Maybe You Can Drive My Car” on Orange / Yellow Dog or “To Be Expected” on Strawberry / Yellow Dog, etc but now there’s a lot more competition and a faster turn around. What would make people buy YOUR product?
The Fab Four Beatleg series is a neat little idea – a catch all for all those extra parts that have been filtering through on the internet while also offering new items to offer that extra pull. Apparently from the producers that brought you the HMC label, these four vinyl platters come in various different flavours and colours – A Beatles release (Marble White), a George Harrison (Yellow), a John Lennon (Green) and a Paul McCartney (Blue). Maybe Ringo had been asked to join in but then the contract was passed, he refused to sign.
Some of these pieces have been released on the japanese labels Medusa or Unicorn, some others are brand new to bootleg. Heres a rundown of whats there;
Vol 1. The Beatles * Ob La Di – Ob La Da / Don’t Let Me Down / Midnight Special / Two Of Us – Originally released on Yellow Dog’s CD “A Cam & B Cam Stereo”, these four tracks are from the first day of sessions at Twickenham for the eventual “Let It Be” motion picture. These are rag-tag jams, warm ups and rehearsals. As nice as these are to hear, and in stereo, we have them already on CD and from the Nagra reels. It would be nice if they had a few more real unreleased tracks to put to their product. A production for the vinyl audiophile maybe.
Vol 2. George Harrison * Old Brown Shoe / All Things Must Pass * Badfinger – Rock Of All Ages – Three tracks that appeared earlier this year on the internet. “Old Brown Shoe” and “All Things Must Pass” are Harrison demos from his birthday in 1969. Originally released on Anthology 3, these versions were taken from acetates and feature different mixes to the official variations.
“Rock Of All Ages” was recorded by Badfinger for the B-side to “Come And Get It”, the McCartney penned song that would become one of the bands biggest singles. This version, also from acetate, features Paul’s original guide vocal, something that was replaced when the track was mixed for release.
Vol 3. John Lennon * Working Class Hero / Watching The Wheels / I’m Losing You – “Working Class Hero” from rehearsals for John and Yoko’s One To One concert in New York in 1972 was uncovered in 2013 and played on Chris Carter’s “Breakfast With The Beatles” radio show soon after.
Due to the restrictions of FM radio and it’s audience, the offending swear word was run inside out when it was played over the air waves. Three separate versions of this recent unearthing exist – either taken from the FM broadcast or from MP3s – none of them fix the family friendly version in to anything more ‘real’. It sounds much better than the original Orange label or Moonlight rehearsal CDs (Now they must be due for an upgrade if these tapes exist!) but the vocals tend to hover over to the right channel.
“Watching The Wheels” is another of John’s many home piano demos as he mapped out the return of his musical career. It took many attempts to get this one right it seems but I think we can all agree that the finished article came off well.
The demo here is noted as unreleased and after a little bootleg spotting (and there’s many of those to go at) I can verify that this does indeed appear to be another unreleased take as John plays with the upper register of his piano keys. Hopefully it’s an off cut to another brace of “Oddity” releases.
“I’m Losing You” is taken from an unreleased video and the sound is fantastic. The liner notes to the back of the single mention this to be “incomplete” and it couldn’t be more honest. What we have here is c. 25 seconds of part of a take. Someone plays a snatch of the riff to “She’s A Woman” before the band move in to a take on the “Double Fantasy” track. This appears to be from the still unreleased collectors video from these sessions. Somewhat annoying as a bonus track though and they may have been better leaving this off if they had anymore studio chatter or a quick demo to fill the space with.
Vol 4. Paul Mccartney * For No One / I’ll Get You / I’ve Got A Feeling – Three songs than span from between 2004 and 2005 from HMCs seemingly never ending span of soundboard tracks from the “US” tour. “For No One” studiedly played on piano with a muted horn part & a much grungier version of “I’ll Get You” with an arresting harp part come from the gig at the Pepsi Center, Denver, CO. on the 1st of November, 2005.
A fromage frying, “I’ve Got A Feeling” was realised at the concert at Stade de France in Paris, France on the 24th of June, 2004. A much muted classic that means Paul could really break out his tonsils and roar. His touring band since 2002 play no mean feat either and rather excitingly the track is drawn out a little longer than the Beatles version giving Paul just that little bit more of an excuse to rock out.
It’s not the grandest novelty in bootleg terms but for the collector who wants these tracks on vinyl or wants these tracks period this is a sweet little way to collect them. They honestly may not get played so often but at the moment they’re the best way to collect them.