Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sticking a Toe into the Water

September 4, 1962

I'm thinking today has about the longest entry of all in my Complete Beatles Chromicle by Mark Lewisohn.  I guess that gives you some sense of today's importance to Beatle history.

Abbey Road in 1998
The Beatles, with new member Ringo Starr in tow, fly down to London for another crack at making a commercially viable record.  They arrive at Abbey Road Studios after lunch and are soon rehearsing six possible numbers with Ron Richards. At 7:00 pm, London Time, they begin to record in earnest.

Before the session begins, supervised by George Martin, Mr Martin goes over some of the details of what he expects of them, introducing them to the "ins and outs" of the recording process.  He ends with "...and if there is anything you don't like, please feel free to let me know."  George Harrison, with a show of supreme confidence and cheek replies "Well, for a start I don't like your tie."  That breaks the ice, and Martin knows he has a tiger by the tail.

Martin had earlier sent a demo disk of the song he had chosen for them to record, which he had obtained through the old boy songwriters market.  A song called "How Do You Do It" by Mitch Murray.  That song is recorded rather languidly by the boys, who are far more keen to do their own material.  Lennon says later he would have been ashamed to show his face in Liverpool if THAT had been the first Beatles vinyl to hit the charts. Not a bad song, really, but not what Lennon and McCartney had in mind for a shakeup of the popular music world.

"Love Me Do" is also recorded, but with a new twist.  John has recently added the harmonica, which is such a central feature of the song we know.  Well, that meant he couldn't sing the title line of the song, because his harmonica overlaps it.  So Paul McCartney is pressed into service to perform it.  On the original unreleased version, available on the Beatles Anthology, it's easy to hear his hesitation after having performed the song so many times on stage with Lennon doing the honors.  This episode vividly demonstrates that there is no thought of using overdubs or other studio tricks, and the recordings are essentially live performances recorded straight through in one take.

Martin doesn't say anything, but he must be listening carefully to the new drummer.  Is this a significant improvement over that other kid, Pete?  Hmmm, well, maybe not so much.

The Beatles return to Liverpool tomorrow and play two, lunch at the Cavern and evening at the Rialto Ballroom, a Sam Leach production and the debut performance at this venue.  They continue to play almost everyday on various Liverpool stages.  The next trip to Abbey Road is quickly arranged for the 11th.

No comments:

Post a Comment