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Beatles Rarity Of The Week – “Red Sails In the Sunset” (unaltered account from Star Club tapes)

Posted by on January 3, 2011 at 7:00 am.

Welcome to the Beatles Rarity of the Week and Happy New Year!

During the holiday season of 1962 The Beatles were busy down in Hamburg. Accounts of their Star Club recordings there are numerous, confusing and often contradictory. During the final days of December 1962, when the band was on their last stint of shows for Hamburg’s Red Light district, Star Club sound man (and Big Three guitarist) Adrian Barber was working on improving the venues PA system and set up a mono recorder to record about four hours of material between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The fidelity was very limited due to the use of only a single microphone suspended from the ceiling as well as a slow recording speed to allow for more material to be fit on the tape. Much of the music on the tape is by The Beatles and there is also material from Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers and The Dominoes.

The tapes ended up with Ted “Kingsize” Taylor (lead singer of The Dominoes) who claimed John Lennon accepted a round of drinks in exchange for the rights to the recordings. About a year later, after The Beatles had gained much popularity, Ted tried to sell the tapes to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, but because of the poor sound quality, Brian only offered 20 British pounds for them and that was turned down. After trying unsuccessfully again to sell the tapes, this time to Apple, Ted teamed up with Allan Williams, The Beatles first manager to have the tapes filtered, equalized and processed into a stereo ambiance for a June 1977 double-album release on Lingasong Records called Live! At The Star Club in Hamburg Germany 1962. The album extracts only selected Beatles recordings from the tapes and the UK and US versions have a few differences in what tracks were used. Shorter accounts of these recordings were issued on various CDs in the 1980′s including an official K-Tel CD.

“Red Sails In The Sunset,” sung here by Paul McCartney, is a cover of a mid-1930′s era song written by Hugh Williams and Jimmy Kennedy. It did appear on the Lingasong album and the K-Tel CD. The officially released versions are missing the third verse and the first of two repeats of the final vocal line were edited out, due to microphone feedback. For your BROW this week, I give you the unaltered and complete account of the song.

The Beatles - Red Sails In The Sunset
The Beatles at the Star Club, Hamburg, Germany, December 1962

The Beatles at the Star Club, Hamburg, Germany, December 1962

Special Thanks go to John C. Winn who authored Way Beyond Compare, Bruce Spizer who authored The Beatles Swan Song and the folks at Purple Chick for much of the info that went into this post.

Want to make a suggestion for a future Beatles Rarity of the Week? If so, I will do my best to deliver, so let me hear from you. To browse for ideas, check out this search-able listing of thousands of Beatle-related recordings to choose from. Then let me hear from you here.

Amazon links for your favorite Beatles-related music: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

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Want to make a suggestion for a future Beatles Rarity of the Week? If so, I will do my best to deliver, so let me hear from you. To browse for ideas, check out this search-able listing of 10,130 Beatle-related recordings to choose from. Then let me hear from you here.

4 Comments

  • dermahrk says:

    I had forgotten what a great arrangement they do of this song. I finally digitized my vinyl copy of the 2-LP set. Thanks, Mark!

  • Spike says:

    That rocks! I was expecting something slow and easy-listening. Makes me wish I’d been there in 1962. I did make it to the Star Club in the summer of 1966, but, knowing that I was going to be there, the Beatles chose not to perform there that evening.

  • Stew Hall says:

    1977. Great year. Hollywood Bowl & Star Club Albums. We didn’t have the luxury of summoning everything up on a computer, we had to buy records and read books!!

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