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Beatles Rarity Of The Week – “You Can’t Do That” (live for NME Poll Winners)

Posted by on October 1, 2012 at 6:00 am.

Welcome to The Beatles Rarity of the Week. Nineteen Sixty-Four was certainly one of the busiest years for the Fab Four and with their recent filming schedule for A Hard Day’s Night and recording sessions in the studio, April 26th of that year found them a bit out of practice as far as their stage act was concerned. This was the day that The Beatles appeared as the top of the bill performers on the New Musical Express Annual Poll Winners All-Star Concert. The Beatles had not played live in Britain for 15 weeks (or anywhere in two months) but here they were, ready to crank out an energetic 5-song set at the Empire Pool in Wembley for this annual event. ABC Television was filming it too for a May 10 broadcast on the show Big Beat ’64.

Being a little out of practice didn’t seem to be too much of a problem despite a few minor issues such as during this performance of “You Can’t Do That.” The mic that Paul McCartney and George Harrison were sharing for backing vocals would not hold it’s adjustment causing them to have to keep repositioning it to the right height while they sang. John Lennon loses track at one point about his upcoming vocal and has to rush back to his mic to begin singing the bridge. Finally since this recording is sourced from the ABC Television broadcast, the fidelity isn’t up to what our spoiled ears are used to today. Nevertheless , with a bit of imagination you can sense the energy that must have filled the room during the set. The complete set in order of performance was “She Loves You,” “You Can’t Do That,” “Twist And Shout,” “Long Tall Sally” and their latest single at the time “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

The Beatles - You Can't Do That

The Beatles, NME Poll Winners Concert, 1964

The Beatles, NME Poll Winners Concert, 1964

Extra info:

1) After the show, during the awards presentation, actor Roger Moore presented The Beatles with four huge trophy cups. John pretends to drink from his, while Ringo Starr places his on his head like a crown.

2) Besides The Beatles, other bands at the show included The Rolling Stones, The Hollies, The Searchers, The Merseybeats, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Joe Loss orchestra, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Manfred Mann, Jet Harris w/Sounds Incorporated, Kathy Kirby, Big Dee Irwin and Joe Brown and the Bruvvers.

3) John Lennon plays the guitar solo in “You Can’t Do That” which he credits the then relatively unknown Wilson Pickett as being an influence for.

Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post and/or The Beatles in general:

1) A Hard Day’s Night 2009 stereo CD remaster of original 1964 U.K. LP featuring “You Can’t Do That.”

2) Magical Mystery Tour – DVD or Blu-Ray 2012 remaster of original 1967 film plus extras and restored sound including 5.1 mix. Pre-order only until Oct. 9, 2012.

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

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  • Andy says:

    Beatlemania at its finest. I never thought about it before, but Wilson Pickett was indeed relatively unknown at this point. Nice one, Nat!

    • Happy Nat says:

      Thanks Andy…just wondering about that premature shout (from Paul?) which was likely intended to be before John’s guitar solo but was a verse early. Sounds a little funny…lol. This must have been great fun though. Sure wish I would’ve been there.

      • Andy says:

        Ha, I hear ya! It would’ve so not been grotty to have been there. That premature shout sounds like a John shout to me. Paul seemed to have had more of the Little Richard shout, while John did the “wwwwwooooooaaaawwwwwwhhhh” thing. Plus, I can’t imagine Paul making a mistake like that (that’s definitely John’s department)!

  • Tony Maxwell says:

    I didn’t need my imagination to feel the energy of that performance, Nat- the audience is appropriately frenzied, and it would have taken some careful listening to notice the miscues. Wonderful recording overall.

    I’m not a big listener of The Beatles’ concert recordings. But I’ve seen tons of live concert film footage, as I’m sure most anyone reading this has, and it will never cease to amaze me how The Beatles, the very pioneers of stadium and huge concert hall performances – let’s say Shea Stadium, for instance – could gather onstage, carrying their pre-tuned instruments, plugging them into a rudimentary sound system they had never used before, having NO monitors, or equalized mixing, or the slightest idea of how they sounded ‘out there’ or even to themselves, and still play and sing their music in synch, in tune, and at times close to note-perfect, as they certainly do here.

    Performing on this scale, under these conditions, was not just new to The Beatles- it was new, period, and to hear performances like these, which even the original screaming audiences couldn’t hear, reminds me of just how proficient these ‘boys’ were, when half as much talent would have been formidable in those early years.

  • Happy Nat says:

    Thanks Tony! I just mean that so many of us are you used to a higher level of recording fidelity these days but yes…the energy is definitely there. And Andy…you are likely right. It’s probably John…I was just thinking he’d be more aware of where they were in the song since he was singing the verses. Although their voices are quite distinctive most of the time, there are also times when Paul can sound a bit like John when he sings (or shouts), especially in a live setting with all that audience noise going on around them.

  • Lennonista says:

    Oh, yeah, it’s definitely John. Here’s a link to a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIVneGq-4SI You can also see that Paul did cut out a little early before the guitar solo.

    It always cracks me up when I see video of them having trouble with their mics, which seemed to happen from time to time. (Budokan comes to mind.) It’s really remarkable what they were able to accomplish with such shoddy sound equipment.

  • re: mics – I really don’t get why they had such problems with mic stands – Paul in particular – Ed Sullivan shows his mic kept going lower, happened in Japan, etc. Given how fastidious Epstein was wrt appearance and what a perfectionist he was reported to be, I’d have thought that by *1966*(!) mic stand issues would have been a thing of the past, but they weren’t!

  • Dale True says:

    And what did they do during that 2-month live stage layoff? Only secured their title of World Icons for the next 50 years. Remarkable.

    “You Can’t Do That” was my favorite of all early Beatles B-sides, but they really rushed it here, as they did with most of their songs when they played live. Ringo didn’t even have time to complete the fills. I’m sure the lack of monitoring on stage coupled with the din of screams from the audience made it necessary. Noentheless, a great performance by the Fabs.

  • Adam Jacobs says:

    In the video of this performance, it looks like Lennon is about to start his guitar solo at the wrong time:

    - He gives a little shout (typical before solos).
    - He backs away from the microphone.
    - He quickly returns to the microphone, looking confused.
    - He glances at Paul and appears to say something.

    Watch at 3:49.


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