Welcome back to The Beatles Rarity of the Week. This week’s BROW is sort of a tribute to the late sound engineer-record producer extraordinaire, Phil Ramone, who sadly left us earlier in the year. It’s also a follow up to a couple of earlier entries on The Beatles Rarity from way back in 2010, when I featured a couple of tracks from an album that Paul McCartney had ready to go back in 1987, and for reasons unclear, decided to leave unreleased at the last minute. The name of the album was to be Return To Pepperland (20 Years Later…) and the tracks I shared from it were “Lindiana” as well as the aborted album’s title track (click to access those posts and hear the songs).
I mentioned that some of the tracks that were recorded for that album were re-recorded and appeared on later releases, to include this week’s “Beautiful Night,” which most people know of by the re-recording for Paul’s Flaming Pie album ten years later. This was where he invited his fellow band-mate Ringo Starr to join in on drums and vocals during the coda. Shortly after completing Flaming Pie, Paul said of Ringo:
For years I’ve been saying to Ringo, because we’ve never really done that much work outside of The Beatles and it be great to do something because we got our friendship going again after the Anthology, and I’d had a song called “Beautiful Night” which I wrote quite a long time ago and I’d always liked it and people who’d heard it had liked it but I never felt it was the right version of it. I just felt I just hadn’t quite pulled it off. And so I got “Beautiful Night” out, sorted it out, got the chords and stuff and all that. It was really nice. We sat down. I sat at the piano. We just started. He said this is really like old days. And I realized we hadn’t done this for so long, you know? And it was so comfy. Because, you know, there is that thing where if you’ve known someone for that long, you’ve done so much work with them, unless you always completely lose the plot, it’s sort of still there.
Referring to Paul, Ringo said of the session:
I still feel really comfortable playing with his bass playing, well – playing with him, but, you know the drums and bass it’s…I think, you know, we have all that history and it comes into play when we play together and you just can’t dismiss that.
Although the Paul and Ringo version on Flaming Pie is not to be beaten, I thought it would be good to hear the original Phil Ramone-produced version intended for Return To Pepperland (20 Years Later…). There are other things to appreciate about this account. It sounds a litter more “bare-bones” without the orchestration we are familiar with on the Flaming Pie production. Paul’s vocals are similar but have an added ambiance not apparent on the later version. Have a listen to this original crack at it now and see what you think.
Paul McCartney - Beautiful Night
1) Phil Ramone worked as a composer, producer, sound engineer and also was a violinist. He worked with Paul McCartney on a few hit singles to include “Another Day,” “Spies Like Us” and “Once Upon A Long Ago.” Along with Paul he has worked with Billy Joel; Elton John; Ray Charles; Aretha Franklin; Karen Carpenter; Chicago; B.B. King; Julian Lennon; Rod Stewart; James Taylor; Stevie Wonder; George Michael; Peter, Paul and Mary; Bono; The Guess Who; The Band; Burt Bacharach; Gloria Estefan; Madonna; Cyndi Lauper and many more.
2) The original version of “Beautiful Night” heard above was officially released with the Flaming Pie version on a CD single on December 15th, 1997. The song is part of a track that has has additional material from Paul’s mid-nineties Oobu Joobu radio serial. It is now out of print though used copies can be found on Amazon that command a high price. See here for more details.
Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music and media related to this post:
1) Flaming Pie – 1997 CD by Paul McCartney including Ringo Starr on drums for two tracks, one of which is the finalized version of “Beautiful Night.”
2) The McCartney Years 2007 3-DVD collection of Paul McCartney promo videos and concert footage. Includes videos for “Spies Like Us” and “Once Upon A Long Ago” both produced by the late Phil Ramone.