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#askNat – concerning Lennon/Beatles “Now And Then” demo, Harrison/Lomax “Sour Milk Sea” and unused guitar solo on “Here Comes The Sun”

This week on #askNat I’m addressing a few questions that arrived together from Lucio in Mexico. Lucio’s first goes like this:

Is there an authentic version on any bootleg of the “Threetles” backing track for the “Now and Then” demo”?

The “Now And Then” demo by John Lennon was supposedly one of four demos of John Lennon’s given by Yoko Ono to the three surviving Beatles in the nineties for use on The Beatles Anthology project. The two of these completed by Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Jeff Lynne and released on singles and The Beatles Anthology 1 & 2 CD sets were “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” (more details here). The fourth was likely “Grow Old With Me,” which is included in it’s rawest form on John and Yoko’s 1984-released Milk And Honey album. Of course “Threetles” is a nineties term referring to Paul, George and Ringo when they reunited to work on the Anthology project.

John Lennon, 1979

John Lennon, 1979


Paul has confirmed that they received additional material from Yoko outside of the “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” demos but has not mentioned if any actual work was done to them by the “Threetles.” When “Now And Then” appeared in a polished up form on You Tube in January 2008 labeled as being by The Beatles, it has been surmised that this was work done on the track by the surviving Beatles but this has not been confirmed. The track is still on You Tube as of this writing and you can also hear it below. Unfortunately since there is no other known source for the recording, the audio quality (or lack thereof) is what it is. But is this really The Beatles or just a clever “out-fake?” It sounds like Ringo’s drumming to me with some quite “Paul-ish” harmonies. I invite you to give your own opinion and help answer Lucio by commenting below.

The Beatles - Now And Then


And now on with Lucio’s next question:

I’ve just listened to a 2010 broadcast of Beatles at the Beeb about songs The Beatles gave away, and they played a “Sour Milk Sea” demo with a higher quality than the “Esher demo.” Has this demo has surfaced on a bootleg yet?

Good one, Lucio! Love this song! Originally a contender for the “White Album,” George Harrison wrote “Sour Milk Sea” in India and later decided he’d contribute it to Jackie Lomax to help get his solo career going. This track when finished included George (acoustic guitar) along with Paul McCartney (bass), Ringo Starr (drums) and Eric Clapton (electric guitar along with Jackie). Under production by George it became one of the first singles on the new Apple label and Jackie also included it on his first solo album with Apple titled Is This What You Want? George’s original “Esher demo” as well as the finalized version by Jackie can be heard here.

Is This What You Want? Jackie Lomax's debut Apple LP, 1969

Is This What You Want? Jackie Lomax’s debut Apple LP, 1969


The demo Lucio is referring to was recorded at George’s Kinfauns home in Esher with George singing and playing acoustic guitar and Jackie playing bass to just get an initial feel for the song. It was recorded sometime between late May and June 26, 1968. The recording of it was supplied by George’s wife Olivia sometime around 2009 for use on the Beeb (BBC 2 radio) program The Songs The Beatles Gave Away which was broadcast on November 28, 2009. As far as whether or not it has been bootlegged, I would be surprised if it wasn’t out there somewhere but I do not know of a specific title. I don’t know that any more of the demo is available anywhere other than what is heard here:

George Harrison & Jackie Lomax - Sour Milk Sea


If anyone has further info, be sure to let us all know by commenting below.

I’m on a roll here so I’m going to quickly knock out Lucio’s final question which goes like this:

Is there a version of “Here Comes The Sun” with the complete “lost solo” other than the DVD?

The DVD (or BluRay) Lucio is talking about is the recent 2011(UK)/2012(US) release of Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living In The Material World. In the bonus material we see George’s son Dhani, Beatles producer George Martin and his son Giles sitting at a mixing console listening to the multi-tracks of George Harrison’s Abbey Road classic “Here Comes The Sun.” They come across a guitar track that was left off of the final mix and apparently replaced with the vocal track in the middle section where sun-sun-sun, here it comes is sung. There is talking between the three of them as the track plays and it is not a complete account of the recording. Lucio is inquiring if it is around somewhere in an intact form.

Martin Scorsese's George Harrison: Living In The Material World

Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living In The Material World


There is more to this story though but for now the quick answer is “yes.” I’ll save the rest including a chance for everyone to listen to this recording yourself on the Beatles Rarity of the Week sometime in the next few weeks. Stay tuned…

Thanks everyone for reading and especially to Lucio for sending in his great questions. Again, if anyone has anything to add please do so in the comments section below.

Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions! Keep #askNat going by sending your questions to me in any of the following ways:

1) There is a designated form that you fill out right on the website where you can give your name, location, email address and submit your question. The form is right here and is the same form used to submit requests for BROWs (Beatles Rarity Of The Weeks), but modfied to do both BROW requests and #askNat questions.

2) If you are a Facebook user, you can submit your question right on TheBeatlesRarity FB wall at www.facebook.com/beatlesrarity. If you think about it, try to remember to flag your question with “#askNat”.

3) Similarly, if you are a Google+ user, you can submit your question on TheBeatlesRarity Google+ page at www.gplus.to/beatlesrarity. Google+ supports hashtag searchability so it will be helpful if you preface your question with “#askNat” here too.

4) For you Twitter users, www.twitter.com/beatlesrarity gets you to the right place. Post your question and be sure to add “#askNat” somewhere in the tweet.

Here are some links to Amazon to read more or purchase some of the music related to this post:

1) Beatles Anthology 1- 1995 2-CD compilation of Beatles out-takes and extras recorded between the early pre-fame days and 1965. Includes finalized Beatles version of “Free A A Bird.”

2) Beatles Anthology 2 – 1996 2-CD compilation of Beatles out-takes and extras recorded between 1965 and 1968. Includes finalized Beatles version of “Real Love.”

3) Milk and Honey – 2010 CD remaster of original 1984 CD/LP by John Lennon and Yoko Ono – includes home demo of “Grow Old With Me.”

4) Is This What You Want? – Jackie Lomax’s 1969 2010 remastered CD release of his highly acclaimed debut LP for Apple Records. Includes finalized version of George Harrison composed/produced track “Sour Milk Sea” with Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Preview the track here.

5) George Harrison: Living In The Material World 2012-released DVD (BluRay also available) set with startling documentary on the career of George Harrison. Includes within bonus material the discovery of the lost guitar track on “Here Comes The Sun” by Sir George Martin, Giles Martin and Dhani Harrison.

6) Abbey Road (Remastered) 2009 CD remaster of original 1969 LP. Features finalized version of “Here Comes The Sun.”

7) More of your favorite Beatles-related music: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

27 people think this is FAB!

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  • Elliott Marx says:

    I do not believe that is really a Threetles recording – though, of course I do wish that it were. I doubt that that much headway had been made on the track. If they do ever want to release this song, I do hope they use the technology made available since Threeltmania and clean up John’s tape. It would be terrific if he didn’t sound as though he were underwater.

    I love Sour Milk Sea – I hope a remixed version of the Lomax version makes it onto Anthology 4.

    • Andy says:

      Outfakes or not, I believe “Now and Then” would clearly have been the choice to follow “Real Love”; “Grow Old With Me” had/has seen too much already, especially with those in the Christian market. “Grow Old With Me” is a sentimental tune, very nice, romantic, etc., but “Now and Then” had/has the potential to be THE follow-up to “Free As a Bird.” Or so I think – or so I think it would have been for the non-fanactics to first hear with the release of Anthology 3 (and the “I don’t want to lose you” section would have been spectacular with George’s take on it, vocally, or even musically with a slide guitar, or ukulele).

  • Stacia says:

    That Now and Then track does sound kinda like Paul’s attempts at remix/electronic music. It wouldn’t surprise me if Paul had done this on his own and brought it to them as a demo. I don’t hear any Jeff Lynne influence there (which is welcome, imho). If it were real, or even a real early take, I think there would be a more prominent guitar part, for George’s sake. There is someone who sounds faintly like George’s voice, but who knows.

  • Prefabfan says:

    No possibility it is Threetles. A clever fake.

  • Radney says:

    If that’s a fake it is a phenominally great one. They did indeed make quite a bit of headway on the song as I’ve read. But whatever else – I’d like someone to tell me who else could have played those drums but Ringo? His sound is so distinctive it cannot be copied.

  • Pat says:

    It’s obviously an out-fake. I hear elements of “Because” and “Sun King” in there. Even a little bit of “Revolution 9″ at the end. Ringo’s drumming could be taken from “Free as a Bird.” The Threetles would not do that.

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