The Beatles – The Rumi Tape and More (Melvin Records – MM22)

The Beatles, ‘The Rumi Tape and More’ (Melvin Records – MM 22) 

Interview with JL / Interview with PM / Interview with GH / Interview with RS / Fool On The Hill – Rehearsal 1 / Fool On The Hill – Rehearsal 2 / Fool On The Hill – Rehearsal 3 / Message from GH / Message from JL / Message from PM / Cry Baby Cry (Piano Demo 1) / Cry Baby Cry (Piano Demo 2) / Cry Baby Cry (Piano Demo 3) / Cry Baby Cry (Electric Guitar demo) / Cry Baby Cry (Acoustic Guitar demo) / All Too Much (Too Long Version) (30:00)

A curious bootleg with a curious history, previously, The Rumi Tape has been difficult to find a pressing of. Originally released on Jap Records as a limited edition press and was rather scarce in the West. The Tarantura label, under the old vinyl pseudonym ’Melvin Records’ has resurrected this old title – As the original was, to say the least, a true collectors item, the new release of this collection almost seems wilfully perverse – Especially as there has been no mention of any upgrade or re-assessment of the original tape since the advent of the original release. 

The story of how the cassette came to be is pretty easy to Google, however, as you’re here to see how this all turns out, here’s a quick potted history; 
Koe Hasebe and Rumiko (‘Rumi’) Hoshika visited the Beatles at Studio 2, Abbey Road on the 25th September, 1967. The reporters had previously met the Fabs in Japan 1966 on the Asian leg of their tour and from that, they became friends. This, their third meeting *, resulted in Rumi recording a short few interviews with the band along with some short messages to take home. Koe was on hand to take photos of the occasion. 

As noted, you’ve listening to an historical artifact and the sound is sometimes a little difficult to follow – For the Rumi Tape, it’s akin to listening to an AM radio on a prop-plane – You can hear what is being said (Though most of the dialogue is Rumi and unless you’re fluent in Japanese, it might not make a lot of sense. For the sake of any dispute, I know about 6 Japanese words. I’m not sure I heard any of them here). What you will here though are snippets and rehearsals for ‘Fool On The Hill’. Akin to listening to Yoko’s diary tape from the Revolution session but with Japanese discussion instead of the thoughts on the life and relationships of an Avant-Garde artist. Nothing earth shattering as, arguably, it’s nothing that you’ll jump out of your chair to hear – It is cool to hear the various messages that the Beatles leave for Rumi at the end of the tape however – Especially John’s which is very funny, if a little curt. 

The extra tracks on this disk have been widely bootlegged before and fit within a slightly different timeframe (Though, by the Beatles fleeting standards, not by a wide mile) – Five brief demos of ‘Cry Baby Cry’ on piano then electric and acoustic guitar as he worked out the best way to flesh out the song. The piano demos are obviously the most embryonic versions of the take lasting only seconds before they morph in to the next. The electric guitar demo of the track doesn’t last too much longer, the acoustic version is the Kinfauns, double tracked demo. 

Finally, the rare long version of ‘All Too Much’, the George Harrison composition for ‘Yellow Submarine’. At 8:32, it’s very, very long – and not quite as catchy as ‘Hey Jude’, so there’s possibly one reason it was veto’d from release. The fact that it borrows from ‘Sorrow’, may be another reason. Here it is in rough mono – While it can also be found on Vigotone’s ‘The Lost Pepperland Real’ in much better fidelity and in stereo too! 

The packaging is deceptively simple – A bright green sleeve featuring a Xeroxed looking Paul and George standing with Rumi, the cacophony of the original Melvin records illustrations on the back with a very neat tracklisting. Inside there is a rubber stamped, paper sleeve, inside there, a cotton style bag for your CD. 

Were it not the chance to find the increasingly hard to find Rumi tape on a silver pressed CD, it would be easy to pass off this set as a bit of collectable whimsy, it’s true that it might not appeal to many but the more hardcore of Beatles devotees, it’s short running time is also a reason to hesitate – but, it is a nice looking package and an affordable pick up at the same time.

( * Thanks Roger Stormo!)

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