The “Get Back” LP rumours – August 1969

August 1969

About

Early June, the “Get Back” LP was announced in the press, for a release in July. Further updates had pushed the release to August and then September.

In August, the Beatles Monthly Book published a review of the “Get Back” LP, as well as a quote from Mal Evans announcing the plan had changed: another album would soon be released (“Abbey Road“) and “Get Back” would be released at a later date and at the same time as the documentary film being worked on by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.

The fellows listened together to the final tapes of all the Get Back LP recordings after they got back from their various business and holiday trips abroad. They realised that it would be much more appropriate to hold back this whole set of recordings so that they could form an LP which would go out at the time their TV documentary is shown in Britain and America. In the meantime they wanted to get their first 1969 LP out as soon as possible. Some material was in the can already, but they got down to work again in the studios in the first week of July to complete enough new stuff to make up another full-length LP.

Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969

From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969:

Editor’s Special Note: When Frederick James listened to the LP recordings he discusses below, the Beatles were planning to release this album collection at the end of August. Now we know that there has been a complete change of plan and the Get Back LP record will not be issued until much later in the year when it will coincide with the screening of the film produced during the making of the LP. In spite of this change, I decided that Beatles Monthly readers should still have the special LP feature as promised in this month’s issue. But please keep in mind that this will NOT be the next LP to go on the market, ANOTHER ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF RECORDINGS will make up the Beatles’ next Apple L.P which is scheduled to come out within the next four or five weeks. The Get Back LP recordings will NOT BE AVAILABLE IN THE SHOPS until much later in the year – probably towards the end of November.

The words I am about to write are based on my own personal summing-up of the Beatles’ autumn LP, the album they’ve been building around the Get Back theme. I want to make this personal opinion bit clear at the outset because my favourite tracks may not be yours and the ones I’m only lukewarm about you may decide to rave over once you hear the LP towards the end of the year.

The other point to bring out right away is that I’ve listened to the whole album twice through and only twice through. How many times do you play the majority of new Beatle recordings before you’re hooked on the thought that here is another masterpiece? Only two of their singles from the past stand out in my mind as items which hit home for me at very first hearing — Penny Lane and All You Need Is Love.

Now to business! First I’d like to pick out the three Get Back album tracks which I believe will live for many years and be added to the range of Beatles classics:

ONE AFTER 909.

FOR YOU BLUE.

LET IT BE.

OPENER

One After 909 is the Side One opener of the LP programme and it finds Paul in his rockin’ raver role, letting his voice rip into the fast-moving lines of lyrics with typical McCartney thrust and infectious enthusiasm. It’s not quite as wild a presentation as he gave earlier things like I’m Down and Long Tall Sally but the vocal format isn’t far removed from Paul’s more recent Back In The U.S.S.R. rouser.

Of the up-tempo stuff collected here I’d say One After 909 will become the new album’s most played track and deservedly so. It was written ten years ago by John and Paul when clearly, their big influence was the recordings of America’s Rhythm & Blues giants. Intentionally the Beatles haven’t attempted very much up-dating of the piece because it works so well the way it stands.

For You Blue is George’s showpiece. He’s the composer, lyric writer, singer and main guitarist here.

For George this is a total “getting back” to the days before his sudden concentration upon Indian music. At the same time it’s very much a 1969 track for I doubt if George would have been capable of penning or performing such an entertaining song in his pre-sitar period. John and Paul have been mighty talents at songwriting for ten years — One After 909 reminds us of that. But George has cultivated his composition work slowly and effectively over the years. It’s no surprise to hear another terrific new number from the Lennon/McCartney collaboration but it’s pleasing to find that with For You Blue George is ready to approach that pair’s high standard of writing, a fact
that suggests to me that George may well extend very substantially his activity in this line in the future, creating more and more new material not only for use by the Beatles but by the various upcoming Apple artists in whom George is taking a record production interest. Although there isn’t a hint of India about For You Blue I’m convinced that the considerable broadening of George’s over-all musical knowledge since he began to learn the sitar will have helped him to build the very beautiful romantic ballad he calls For You Blue. Both the words and the melody are excellently put together.

PERSUASIVE

The performance itself is vocally persuasive and has a neat combination of Lennon and Harrison guitar sounds behind it. George plays acoustic while John presents the contrasting steel hard music of his Fender, drawing from it swirling, curving metallic notes that give us pictures of silversand, swaying palms and dusky, island beauties!

The last of my three choices is another Paul McCartney speciality, one that lets him fly right to the other end of the scale from One After 909 to deliver something sentimental. Let It Be is a warm song, a charmer put over with friendly persuasion. The words carry an utterly simple message saying that when all the world agrees there’ll be a peaceful answer to everything. Not unlike the acorn theme being carried across the world by John and Yoko is it?

Let It Be could easily live as long as Paul’s previous winners like Yesterday for it has the same hallmark of melodious beauty about it.

I hope I leave you in no doubt that in their different ways One After 909, For You Blue and Let It Be are stand-out newcomers of exceptional quality even by the Beatles very high self-set standards.

You may agree with me that the rest of the new bundle are much less remarkable. This is not to say they are actual losers but I haven’t heard anything else amongst the Get Back programme to put forward as another potential Beatles standard for the seventies.

If you read the detailed story of this album’s creation in the Mal Evans piece which went into the July edition of Beatles Monthly, you will know that this is very different from all previous LP records made by John, Paul, George and Ringo.

PERFECTION

Instead of aiming for technical perfection, the Beatles have (as Mal so precisely put it) taken their socks off. In other words the aim of this LP is to invite Beatle People right into the Apple recording studio to hear what happens at a typical series of 1969 sessions. “By far the most intimate set of records the Beatles have ever put out” confirms Mal. And he concludes: “All the off-the-record bits are left ON the record for you to hear. None of the loose ends tied up. Just a friendly album… quite unlike the carefully prepared, expertly edited LP productions the fellows have spent so many months on in the past.”

So it is important for us to accept this LP for what the Beatles intend it to be a backstage special which leaves with us not only their new numbers but intriguing glimpses into their unrehearsed studio work, their bits of ‘tween-takes conversation, their shouted gag lines yelled up from studio floor to producer George Martin, engineer Glyn Johns or whichever relatives, buddies, pals and mates happened to be visiting in the control room at the moment.

The other important change, a definite bit of “getting back”, is the total exclusion from this production of electronic tricks (all those curious tape-loops and back-to-front sound effects, distorted instrumental attacks and so forth), accompaniment musicians and extra vocalists in the background.

All the way through to Sgt. Pepper and beyond, the Beatles let their recording sessions expand to epic proportions. They fetched in banks of strings. full symphony orchestras, assorted small groups of instrumentalists — and a lot of advanced technical machinery to achieve special effects.

The new LP collection is a get-back to the recording line-up they used in 1963 and 1964. Mostly it’s just three guitars and drums. As with most of their earliest recordings, Ringo stays beside his percussion kit and isn’t handed a vocal mike at any stage of the proceedings. It’s true that to their guitars and drums they add piano and organ but that’s all. Where piano was once added to Beatles tapes by George Martin, the player today is either Paul or Fifth Beatle Billy Preston, that extraordinarily talented American who moves between organ and piano on about half the tracks assembled here. While the other half were being recorded Billy was back home in America but we know we’ll hear much more of him both as singer and instrumentalist now that Apple Records are lining up Billy Preston’s own tracks for release.

OLD PHOTO?

Even the album’s sleeve goes back six Beatle years. The photograph on the front cover was taken by the same photographer who did the one for Please, Please Me. John, Paul. George and Ringo lined up on the staircase at the headquarters of EMI Records in London’s Manchester Square just as they had done a little over six years earlier. What’s more I’m told that Angus McBean even used the very same camera to take the 1969 version of the same picture!

And as with Please, Please Me, the 1969 album includes recent tracks issued as a single and borrows its programme title from that chart-topping single hit rather than having a different title of its own.

For those who thought that the Beatles work on record has been becoming too clever, too cluttered up with freaky ideas, the Get Back bundle will come as a most pleasant surprise. Here is the quartet back at its own simple, uncomplicated yet commercially musical beginnings.

Of course Please, Please Me was recorded in one very long day whilst the tracks on the Get Back album were made over a period of quite a few weeks during the first months of 1969. And to some fans who don’t follow the full month-to-month activity of the Beatles, it may seem that there isn’t much to show here for such a long wait. Since the two-disc LP set came out last year there has been a gap of almost nine months in the output of LP material from the Beatles. What should be remembered is that for much of these nine months the Beatles have been heavily engaged in other work—making Apple a more efficient operation, promoting the interests of other Apple artists ranging from Mary Hopkin and James Taylor to Jackie Lomax and Billy Preston. In John’s case there has been much 1969 time taken to establish Bag Productions, the new John/Yoko production hive which is making not only records but books, films and peace-promoting overseas trips. George has made his Zapple album, Paul has married and Ringo has found time to take on his first full co-starring film role opposite Peter Sellers.

Thus the real production time for the Get Back recordings should read nearer nine weeks than nine months — and alongside the actual studio taping work went the making of a motion picture, a film which is to be the direct visual companion to the audio contents of the Get Back LP. Instead of accepting the Get Back release as a fascinatingly informal listen-in at Beatles sessions, the knockers are sure to suggest that John, Paul, George and Ringo couldn’t be bothered to put their socks on for this set, wouldn’t take the trouble to tie up the loose ends, had lost the enthusiasm to aim for complete studio perfection.

I have left detailed discussion of all the other Get Back tracks to the end of this piece.

I don’t need to write here about the album’s title track, Get Back. Just for the record I’ll confirm that it finishes the new album’s first side and it crops up again very briefly at the very end of Side Two in reprise (encore) form. The B-side of the same single, Don’t Let Me Down, is right up front on Side One straight after the rip-rockin’ One After 909 opener.

And, as Mal revealed to you last month, there are little fun sessions stuck in between a couple of items. Right after One After 909 there’s a snatch of free-wheeling freaky guitar work followed by the brief nostalgia of the Beatles tackling the oldie Save The Last Dance. Again on Side Two they repeat the idea of popping in a familiar oldie — it’s the Liverpool folk/skiffle ballad Maggie May and it comes between Two Of Us On Our Way Home and Dig It (tracks 3 and 4).

***WHEN I LISTENED TO A SPECIAL APPLE ADVANCE COPY OF THE “GET-BACK” ALBUM. IT CONTAINED ONLY SIX OTHER ITEMS, ALL FRESHLY WRITTEN MATERIAL. THERE’S ALWAYS THE POSSIBILITY WITH ANY BEATLES PROJECT THAT LAST-MINUTE CHANGES WILL BE MADE, THAT ONE OR OTHER BEATLE WILL WANT TO PERSUADE THE OTHERS TO DROP A PARTICULAR TRACK OR ADD ONE OR TWO NEW ONES FROM THE GREAT WEALTH OF OTHER 1969 TAPES FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO PRESENT RECORD RELEASE PLANS. BUT AT THE TIME I WRITE THIS PIECE, THE REST OF THE “GET BACK” PROGRAMME RUNS LIKE THIS :—

Dig A Pony … Here’s a heavy blues with John getting most of the vocal action, Billy Preston featured on electric piano, Paul playing bass and Ringo laying down his good, good drum base. Although John sings and Paul joins in occasionally with ad lib comments, the main attraction of the track is the bluesy guitar work so Dig A Pony is more of an instrumental winner than anything else with the words having less importance for the listener.

I’ve Got A Feeling … John replies to Paul’s raw, punched-out blues-shouting and, later, takes over the vocal lead from him. I can imagine this track being a fantastic success in a club or discotheque setting where we might watch as well as hear what’s happening. Perhaps the full strength of the recording will be most obvious when we get to see the film made during the LP recording sessions. For me, the fault with I’ve Got A Feeling is that it starts out at pressure and stays like that most of the way through when I was waiting for some kind of climax which never came.

INTERESTING

Teddy Boy … Here’s a thoroughly interesting mixture. On novelty grounds I was tempted to add this track to my list of three highlight selections. So many different feelings are put into this one that it’s difficult to sort out the main one and tell you just where the Beatles are going with Teddy Boy. One special point is that bass is discarded altogether here in favour of a guitar line-up which has electric and acoustic played alongside one another. Paul handles the vocal and the whole instrumental arrangement gradually works its way into a strange hoedown Square Dance setting!

Two of Us (On Our Way Home) … This is the item with which the Beatles are launching their latest Apple group, a threesome known as Mortimer made up of talented New York teenagers for whom Paul penned the song. Vocal work is shared here by John and Paul with some splendid harmony singing from the pair on a ballad that’s busy and, at the same time, relaxed. I heard some stand-out guitar playing from George here, playing electric guitar but getting right down low so that his contribution replaces Paul’s usual bass role all through the recording.

INVOLVED

Dig It… Although he’s involved in joining Paul and the others for most of the vocals on the Get Back album, John isn’t featured strongly on this new set as solo singer. Granted he’s the star of Don’t Let Me Down and Dig A Pony but to my mind his main solo contribution to the album is Dig It. Now that’s odd, you may think, because it’s PAUL and not John that tackles the track’s lead vocal! But John — and sometimes George — weigh in here with wild off-the-cuff shouts which add enormously to the excitement. This is a tremendously rhythmic item, a good-time track with much free-swinging guitar work and vocal vamping which reaches out from R. & B. into something that’s close to jazz. And, as I say, John’s involvement is just great.

FINAL BRIEF

The Long And Winding Road … Apart from the final briefreturn to Get Back at the end of the second side, this is the last track on the album. It’s Paul again as singer with a ballad which just fell short of Let It Be for me and, therefore, just missed inclusion in the Get Back LP Top Three I listed at the start. Again he’s in sentimental mood but, unlike Let It Be, this is a personal love song about a girl who left him a long time ago.

And that’s the lot — three very, very strong new numbers, six equally new compositions that aren’t quite so strong, a couple of quickie fun tracks in the form of blasts from the Beatles’ long-gone past and the couple of sides from their early-summer single of ’69, Get Back and Don’t Let Me Down.

Let me finish by saying that I welcome the news that this Get Back LP is being put back — held until around November it seems so that it can come out as the soundtrack album when the Beatles’ TV film all about the making of these tracks is to be shown.

UNPOLISHED

Granted the Get Back long player has tremendous novelty appeal with its intentionally unpolished “backstage” approach but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it would not have been wise for this to be the record upon which the world’s Beatle People would judge the group’s 1969 progress. As a special bonus, as an off-beat follow-up release arriving in the shops AFTER their first main LP of the year, the Get Back programme will be really welcome.

From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969
From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969
From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969
From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969
From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969
From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969

A last-minute decision by the Beatles has led to the postponement of their Get Back album which was scheduled for release by Apple Records at the end of August.

Instead, the Beatles launched themselves into a concentrated series of July recording sessions to complete another entirely new LP for rash-release.

Explaining the switch of plan, Apple’s Mal Evans told Bearies Monthly: ‘The fellows listened together to the final tapes of all the Get Back LP recordings after they got back from their various business and holiday trips abroad.

“They realised that it would be much more appropriate to hold back this whole set of recordings so that they could form an LP which would go out at the time their TV documentary is shown in Britain and America. In the meantime they wanted to get their first 1969 LP out as soon as possible. Some material was in the can already, but they got down to work again in the studios in the first week of July to complete enough new stuff to make up another full-length LP.”

Beatles Monthly understands that the Get Back recordings will now get a November release date. Then the issue of the LP can coincide with the planned TV screening and can be treated as the documentary’s soundtrack album. It is understood that the LP will still contain the same recordings — complete with the various ad-lib bits and snatches of studio conversation left in between each number.

From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969
From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°73, August 1969

Last updated on December 21, 2021

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