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Beatles Rarity Of The Week – “Mr. Moonlight” (true stereo mix of take 4)

Posted by on January 28, 2013 at 6:00 am.

Welcome to the Beatles Rarity of the Week. To say the first half of 1964 was a busy time for The Beatles would likely go down as the understatement of the year. I cannot imagine how they managed to tour the world, guest on countless television appearances, make over 40 recorded live performances for BBC radio, put out their A Hard Day’s Night LP, and still manage to star in their first feature film of the same title. And the year was only half over, with no letting up in sight. Not only were they contractually bound, but the worldwide demand for Beatles music at this point in our history was so high that they knew they had to get another album out soon. But the only way to have time to record it is to fit sessions in wherever they could manage between tour dates and an endless amount of other obligations.

The Beatles needed to get 16 new songs recorded (2 for a single and 14 for an LP) before the end of the year. By Sunday, October 18th, having had only a few opportunities in the studio since coming off of their 1964 North American tour, they had only 6 that were ready to go. They reported to EMI Studios that day for a marathon session that fortunately ended up being very productive. In fact, they managed to knock out 8 more songs!

One of these songs was John Lennon’s cover of “Mr. Moonlight,” a song resurrected from their Cavern Club repertoire and originally a 1962 b-side by Dr. Feelgood and the Interns. They had already recorded 4 takes of the song on an Aug. 14th session, squeezed in just before their North American tour, but decided it needed a remake. Four additional takes were made that added the Hammond organ played by Paul McCartney. John’s opening vocal scream from the August 14th-recorded take 4 was edited to the front of the new take 8 to create the master for their next album, which was to be titled Beatles For Sale.

This week’s BROW takes us back to the earlier session of August 14th when takes 1-4 of “Mr. Moonlight” were recorded. Take 1 breaks down after John’s opening scream doesn’t quite make it and we hear sound engineer Norman Smith announce take 2. The tape then cuts to a bit of laughter and brief comment from Paul just before John begins the vocal intro for take 4 that ended up being edited into the master take 8 in October. The Beatles Anthology documentary DVD set includes an out-takes medley that captures the dialogue heard here before takes 1 & 4. Additionally, The Beatles Anthology 1 CD set features the complete take 4 with a portion of the earlier dialogue (Norman Smith’s take announcements are edited out). However the Anthology 1 account presents take 4 in mono and I am presenting a stereo remix of the track prepared by the late EMI sound engineer John Barrett in 1982.

The Beatles - Mr. Moonlight (takes 1 & 4)

John Lennon at sessions for Beatles For Sale, 1964

John Lennon at sessions for Beatles For Sale, 1964


Extra info/further reading and listening:

  1. John Barrett did a number of interesting remixes of Beatles music in 1982 for a planned multi-media show called The Beatles At Abbey Road that would take place at Abbey Road Studio #2 while it was being refurbished the following year. Read more about John Barrett and hear some other Beatles mixes by him here.
  2. Although the available tape presented here omits takes 2 and 3 of “Mr. Moonlight,” The Beatles Anthology 1 CD booklet reveals that take 4 is only the second complete run-through (meaning one of these omitted takes – 2 or 3 – breaks down early as take 1 did).
  3. I mention above that 8 songs were recorded and completed by The Beatles on October 18th, 1964 for Beatles For Sale. Other than “Mr. Moonlight” these were: “I’ll Follow The Sun,” “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby,” “Rock And Roll Music,” “Words Of Love,” “Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey,” “Eight Days A Week” and “I Feel Fine (released as a single).” The final two tracks completed for the album were “Honey Don’t” and the finalized remake version of “What You’re Doing” (both completed on Oct. 26th).

Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:

1) Beatles For Sale (Remastered) – 2009 remastered CD of original 1964 stereo LP. Includes finalized stereo version of “Mr. Moonlight” and 13 other great tunes by The Beatles.

2) Anthology 1 – 1995 2-CD set of Beatles out-takes and extras recorded between their earliest beginnings and early 1965. Includes a mono account of “Mr. Moonlight” (take 4).

3) The Beatles Anthology – 5-DVD set issued in 2003 containing a complete and expanded version of the original documentary by and about The Beatles that’s over 10 hours long. Includes the out-takes medley mentioned in the post that collects many great moments in Beatles sessions including the dialogue before the early takes of “Mr. Moonlight.”

4) 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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  • Roger Tomlin says:

    This is why I love this site. Where else can you get so much “inside baseball” on the lads. This was a great post! But, one unrelated question. And, I understand it’s quite trivial. But, perplexing nonetheless. The photo Happy Nat included of Johnny during the sessions for Beatles For Sale begs a query. The headstock of the legendary Rickenbacker 325 Miami looks odd. The familiar white arrow logo looks too small. Examine any of the thousands of available photos of it. You’ll instantly see the difference. Why does it look this way? As I said, trivial. But, very odd to say the least. Any ideas? I own 2 Ricks myself and I recognize the difference when I see it. But, it’s probably some sort of photographic anomoly. (But, not to worry…I’m quite aware I need to get a life.)

    • Roger Tomlin says:

      I hate it, but I did it again. I’ve answered my own question Happy Nat. It came to me after I sent the e-mail. In February 1964, Rickenbacker representatives met the boys in New York to present them with new guitars. (One of the great marketing actions of the 20th Century.) Not only did they present John with the famous 325 Rick we know and love but they also gave him a special 12 string version of the same guitar. This is what Johnny Rhythm is holding in your pic. The logo is in fact smaller on the 12 string model. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. I love this site!!

  • Lou says:

    I always enjoy listening to their studio chatter — Paul going “nearly” when John’s voice breaks. But the best bit is when John is getting ready to do take 4 and he starts to lose it (you can practically sense a giggle fit coming on) and you hear Paul quietly bring him back to focus saying “no no,” like Paul being the dutiful mum getting Johnny to behave. Nice little moment of give and take, showing how one kept the other on track.

    This track always gets a lot of hate as one of the “worst” Beatles tracks. It’s not my favorite Beatles cover by far, but I don’t get the hate for it.

    • Happy Nat says:

      Never understood that either. Always get a chuckle out of the Star Club recording of it when they sing “here I am on my ‘nose’…begging if you please…”

      • Stacia says:

        As I was listening to this gorgeous outtake as loud as my computer would take me, I kept thinking about the haters and how it makes 0 sense to me. John’s vocal is astounding. When I sing along I always do the “nose” bit. :Just like when I hear No Reply I do the “underneath the mask, I am wearing a tie” every time. Oh, John. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

  • Mr. Moolinght. One of my first Beatles faves from long ago! Amazing!

    Warmest regards and fond memories

    Rui de Castro

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