The Forgotten Abbey Road Rehearsals (Forgotten Records 2011 [1/2])
Disc 1 (68:09): Something – session 1 (28/01/69), Something – session 2 (28/01/69), Something – session 3 (28/01/69), Something – session 4 (29/01/69), Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – session 1 (03/01/69), Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – session 2 (03/01/69), Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – session 3 (07/01/69), Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – session 4 (07/01/69), Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – session 5 (07/01/69), Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – session 6 (06/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 1 (06/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 2 (07/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 3 (07/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 4 (08/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 5 (09/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 6 (14/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 7 (23/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 8 (23/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 9 (27/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 10 (27/01/69), Oh! Darling – session 11 (31/01/69)
Disc 2 (71:21): Octopus’ Garden – session 1 (26/01/69), Octopus’ Garden – session 2 (26/01/69), Octopus’ Garden – session 3 (26/01/69), Octopus’ Garden – session 4 (26/01/69), I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – session 1 (28/01/69), I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – session 2 (28/01/69), I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – session 3 (31/01/69), Sun King – session (02/01/69), Mean Mister Mustard – session 1 (08/01/69), Mean Mister Mustard – session 2 (14/01/69), Mean Mr. Mustard – session 3 (25/01/69), Polythene Pam – session (24/01/69), She Came In Through The Bathroom Window – session 1 (06/01/69), She Came In Through The Bathroom Window – session 2 (06/01/69), She Came In Through The Bathroom Window – session 3 (21/01/69), She Came In Through The Bathroom Window – session 4 (29/01/69), Golden Slumbers – session 1 (07/01/69), Golden Slumbers – session 2 (08/01/69), Carry That Weight – session (09/01/69), Her Majesty – session (24/01/69). Bonus track: The Ballad Of John And Yoko – unreleased Apple acetate
The Forgotten Abbey Road Rehearsals is a new two disc set recontextualizing the Twickenham sessions. The focus of this release is to present material that was rehearsed during the Get Back sessions but was utilized several months later for The Beatles’ final release Abbey Road. None of the rehearsals are new, but the way they are edited together is a very interesting way of hearing the development of these songs.
According to the liner notes: “All tracks have been edited from Nagra tape recordings of the ‘Get Back’ sessions. Board announcements and interruptions have been deleted to focus on musical development. Some takes have been shortened from their original DDSI state for better listenability. Conversations have only been included when they are related to the development of the track.”
An edit of this material is useful for examining the development of the songs in a logical and coherent order. The Beatles’ Get Back sessions contain a massive amount of material which is very difficult, intimidating and boring to wade through for many.
The four tracks for “Something” occurred by the end of the sessions, from January 28th and January 29th. It is noteworthy for hearing George and John rehearsing and working on the lyrics and effects on the guitars. George complains that he’s been working on it for six months and still could not figure out some of the words. “Attracts me like a pomegranate” George jokes several times. By the four track they’ve slipping into a wavering tremolo effect on the guitars that lends a dreamlike sheen. Also interesting is the use of an organ for the melody, and idea that was obviously scrapped when the song was finally recorded for Abbey Road.
“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” occurred earlier in the sessions. Six takes are included from between January 3rd and January 8th. Paul had the melody worked out but the words were being working on during these rehearsals. There are many times when he simply scats the melody or includes clunky lines such as “with a thousand lines to complete by six-thirty-nine.” Lennon in particular seems to have much fun with the song.
“Oh! Darling” was rehearsed throughout the entire session. The eleven sessions in this collection date from January 6th to January 31st. The words, melody and structure of the song are intact as per the Abbey Road recording. Most of the rehearsals are dominated by the piano. An interesting take occurs with number six where Paul is playing alone at the piano and in the middle narrates the words instead of singing them (a la Elvis).
The final “Oh! Darling” take, session 11 from January 31st, is a near professional alternate version which is interesting for featuring Lennon doubling McCartney at certain points, for Harrison’s wandering guitar melody under the vocals and for Billy Preston’s organ joining in the mix. McCartney’s hamming up the vocals precludes it from being included on Abbey Road, but it is an interesting alternate version of the song.
Disc two starts with sessions for “Octupus’ Garden.” These all date from January 26th, and are interesting for hearing the band working on the melody. The tape is about fifteen minutes long and is cued into four convenience sake. Of all the songs in this collection, this one is the least developed and furthest from the final Abbey Road recording.
The first track lasts for ten minutes and features Paul on piano, George and acoustic guitar, and Ringo (back from the microphone) singing the words. The other three tracks are short snippets where they attempt the song “from the beginning” but the song breaks down.
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” runs over two days in the sessions, January 28th and January 31st. All three tracks feature the band working on the song. The recognizable heavy-metal melody is present, but Lennon and Harrison work on alternate melodies of the song on guitar taking it in directions which were scrapped on the final version. Both John and Paul take turns singing “I want you” while they jam with Preston joining in on keyboard.
“Sun King” exists as a single track recorded on January 2nd, the first day of the Twickenham sessions. The track is only two minutes long and consists of Lennon playing the dreamlike melody on guitar with Harrison playing a lyrical melody over.
This is followed by three sessions for “Mean Mister Mustard” taken from three separate days. Totally ten minutes, it consists of the band being lead by Lennon through the song. The melody pretty much remains intact, but the Lennon works on the tempo, playing it first quite fast before slowing it down significantly. The first two sessions Lennon plays on piano accompanied by the rest of the band, but the third he’s on acoustic guitar alone working on the chord progression. “Polythene Pam” comes from a single rehearsal and is simply Lennon on acoustic guitar with drum accompaniment.
“She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” exists in four takes spread out over several days. The first take, from January 6th, is McCartney leading the band through the melody and shouting out the notes for them to play. On the third take, recorded on the 21st, McCartney explores different chord structures and they play runthrough which sounds closer to “I’m So Tired” than the final version. The final take, recorded on the 29th, continues with McCartney showing Harrison on acoustic guitar the structure of the song. Harrison responds with a heavily treated, dreamlike sound to the guitar.
“Golden Slumbers” was rehearsed on two days in the first week of the sessions but then dropped. The rehearsals in existence in this collection are demos of McCartney playing the melody on piano and singing the words. The final “Golden Slumbers” ends with Paul singing “carry that weight” and saying “it’s like a story.” The one take of “Carry That Weight” dates from the following day and, like previous, is McCartney at the piano playing the melody and singing the words. In this rehearsal he changes the tempo several time and leads Lennon and the others in a sing-along.
The final track is, appropriately, “Her Majesty” the “hidden track” on the LP. Paul sings the sing through several times (what is sung in the twenty second track is all there is). Paul’s on acoustic guitar and Harrison accompanies him on slide guitar.
The Forgotten Abbey Road Rehearsals ends with something never heard before. The label pressed “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” from a rare Apple acetate. It is scratchy but clear and doesn’t differ much from the single. It’s a curiosity but nothing groundbreaking. Forgotten Records package this title in a double slimline jewel case with very high class graphics and paper used on the inserts and include detailed recording information.