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.
Extra info/further reading and listening:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.”