The Apple Sessions (2)

Part One : 

Part Two :
Part Three : 
Part Four: 

The Twickenham Sessions

>>> The Apple Sessions
The Rooftop Concert
The Apple Studio Performance
Comments were taken and adapted from The Complete Beatles Chronicle by Mark Lewisohn.
Friday 22 - Wednesday 29 (January 1969)

So they could cease the Twickenham rehearsals and switch location to Apple, to their own brand-new basement recording studio. It was at this point, and this point only, that the footage shot at Twickenham for a "Beatles At Work" TV production turned instead into the start of a feature-film idea, to be called - like the album they'd now be making - Get Back

Although the first Apple Studios shoot/recording session was set for Monday 20 January it didn't take place until Wednesday the 22nd. The delay was caused by the fact that Apple Corps had a subsidiary company called Apple Electronics, run by a trusted friend of the Beatles, Alexis Mardas
They named him "Magic Alex" and asked him to install their recording studio in Savile Row. Mardas promised miracles: EMI (Abbey Road) had only just expanded to eight-track recording, Apple would have 72- track. And there would be no need to use those awkward studio "baffles" around Ringo to prevent leakage of his drum sound into the other microphones. Magic Alex would install an invisible sonic force-field which would do the work unobtrusively. 


Hardly surprisingly, it all worked out very differently and the Beatles lost two days work. Those around at the time recall that Alex's mixing console was made of bits of wood and an old oscilloscope and looked not unlike the control panel of a B-52 bomber. The Beatles did a sample recording hut when they played back the tape it was patently unusable. George Martin had to call EMI and ask for a temporary loan of two four-track consoles to go with Apple's eight-track recorder. 

Even prior to this, George Harrison had realised the Heath Robinson nature of Apple's studio when he saw Mardas wandering around in a white coat, with a clipboard, muttering and trying to place box-loads of tiny loudspeakers around the studio, one for each track.

The Apple recording sessions were slightly less unhappy than the Twickenham rehearsals, and this was mostly due to the presence of Billy Preston on electric piano/organ, who was seized upon by George as someone whose involvement was likely to lift sagging spirits and also improve behaviour a group of people who know each other intimately well, and have begun to pick away at faults and foibles, will usually be mollified when an outsider is in their midst, and this is exactly what happened.

Between Friday 24 and Wednesday 29 the tapes rolled for many songs.

First, they rolled for Paul's On Our Way Home (the work-ing title of Two Of Us), Paul's Teddy Boy, Maggie Mae, John's Dig It and Dig A Pony and Paul and John's I've Got A Feeling.

It was between takes of On Our Way Home that the Beatles burst into a 38-second, hammed-up version of Maggie Mae, the traditional Liverpool song about a celebrated local lady of the night.

The Beatles' version of Teddy Boy was included on the first of the two unissued Get Back albums and remains unissued to the time of writing. However the song was re-recorded alone by Paul and released in April 1970 on his first solo album McCartney (21 February 1970).

The Beatles recorded two versions of Dig It, an impromptu number created by John though released on Let It Be as a Lennon-McCartney-Starkey-Harrison composition. The first version was never issued, although John's childlike spoken message at the end of the recording - "That was 'Can You Dig It' by Georgie Wood, now we'd like to do 'Hark The Angels Come' " - was tacked onto the end of the second version of the song (which was substantially abbreviated to be used on the Get Back and Let It Be albums). Heather Eastman, six-years-old and six weeks away from becoming Paul's step-daughter, contributed amusing backing vocals during the early part of the song and George Martin shook a percussive shaker.

The tapes also rolled for the recording of Untitled Jamming (a very brief and entirely instrumental piece), a speedy jam of the 1957 Everly Brothers hit Bye Bye Love, and of two new songs: Paul's Let It Be and George's Blues, which was the working title of For You Blue.

A long rock and roll medley followed: Shake Rattle And Roll (Joe Turner, 1954), Kansas City (Wilbur Harrison, 1959, not at all like the Little Richard cover which the Beatles recorded for Beatles For Sale), Miss Ann (Little Richard, 1956), Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Lloyd Price, 1952), Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins, 1956) and You Really Got A Hold On Me (the Miracles with Smokey Robinson, 1962, as covered on With The Beatles). George then led the Beatles into a mostly instrumental version of the same group's Tracks Of My Tears (1965 but not a hit until 1969).

Then, two other songs were taped: Paul's ballad The Long And Winding Road, which would be returned to, and a George Harrison demo, unfitted, recorded solo with vocal and lightly strummed lead guitar, which would not. When titled, this became Isn't It A Pity but it was never recorded by the Beatles as a group, and it didn't surface publicly until 30 November 1970, when it was one of the outstanding songs on George's solo triple-album All Things Must Pass.

Paul's Oh! Darling, to be recorded properly for Abbey Road, was given a rehearsal run-through, and the Beatles also jammed a cover of The Walk, a major US hit for Jimmy McCracklin in March 1958.

A surprisingly productive session was runned, with both sides of the next single - Get Back and Don't Let Me Down being recorded. It was an interesting session too because the Beatles also resurrected two of their earliest songs, Love Me Do and The One After 909.

The Beatles and Billy Preston suddenly became a cohesive unit for the recording of Get Back and Don't Let Me Down, and both were excellent versions. Get Back was faded-out for the single because it ran on for some considerable time, ending with forced "ho-ho-hos" from Paul. This little section was included as the final item on the unreleased Get Back LPs and was also used over the end titles of the Let It Be film.)

A 1969 Beatles re-recording of Love Me Do - the song which started it all - sounds inviting. Unfortunately, the sound itself was quite the reverse. As with most Get Back recordings, it was little more than an impromptu jam slow and somewhat bluesy - rather than a serious attempt at a modern re-make. Paul handled the vocal with John supporting, and although complete at 2 mins 20 secs, and although the Get Back project was supposed to be capturing the Beatles' rough edges, this recording was just too rough to be considered for release.

Several jammed versions of The One After 909, unissued from the 5 March 1963 session at EMI, were taped during this session, and, additionally, two Billy Preston demos were recorded - Billy's Song (1) and Billy's Song(2) being their only titles - Preston making good use of the four musicians around him. As far as can be ascertained, neither song, both of which were "southern" style blues, was issued even in finished form.

At the end of the session the tape caught a good deal of conversation between the Beatles about whether they should be rehearsing or recording. Or maybe they shouldn't be bothering at all? And filming - when would it end, and what songs would they do? All four contributed opinions and
ideas, although it was patently obvious by the questions, answers and attitudes that the Get Back project was not going at all well.

Other recordings followed with John's I Want You - re-recorded for Abbey Road as I Want You (She's So Heavy) - and jams of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away and Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues and also the Cavern Club crowd-pleaser Besame Mucho, one of the four numbers performed by the Beatles during their first visit to EMI on 6 June 1962.

The chief concern of Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the Get Back director, was that now that the hoped-for TV show was no longer on the blocks, how would the project reach a recognisable conclusion? Beatles albums had been known to take five months to record, and he hadn't intended to be shooting for that long. During a Get Back meeting at Apple on Sunday 26 January the idea was raised that the group give an unannounced live performance the following Thursday on the roof of their own office building. They hoped to blast out that area of central London and, since it was planned for lunchtime, provide free entertainment for the nearby office and shop workers. A number of people claim to have originated the rooftop idea, which suggests that it was warmly received by all. In fact, though, as the clock ticked past noon that Thursday 30 January, George was still only lukewarm towards the idea and Ringo emphatic that he wouldn't participate. It was only the combined force of John and Paul which made it happen.


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