Label: Vigotone, VT-183/184
CD 1 - Kinfauns:
"Obviously these acoustic demos differ greatly from the polished studio versions but we've made note of the major differences.
16 Claremont Drive Esher, Surrey
late May 1968"
Tr Title CD notes Time
1 Julia recorded in a higher key and features the verses in a different order. 3:55
2 Blackbird features a double-tracked vocal, no break, natural bird sounds and a slightly slower pace than the studio version 2:37
3 Rocky Raccoon this early version is significantly shorter lacking the opening and closing verses 2:53
4 Back in the USSR lacks the final verse "show me round your snow peaked mountains…" 2:57
5 Honey Pie this version also appeared on Anthology 3 in excellent stereo but missing the final verse. 2:09
6 Mother Nature’s Son lacks the picked intro of the finished version 2:20
7 Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da Paul occasionally loses time when he double tracked his vocal but this an otherwise spirited take. Not surprisingly this version is closer in feel to the Sessions version than the finished take. 3:18
8 Junk appeared on Anthology 3 in stereo but lacking some guitar bits and vocals heard here. 2:26
9 Dear Prudence John lets out a "whoops!" as he flubs his double track vocal and finishes with a spoken outro 4:39
10 Sexy Sadie features an undeveloped ending 2:29
11 Cry Baby Cry lacks the "cry baby cry" intro and has a different ending 2:32
12 Child of Nature earliest incarnation of "Jealous Guy" - an early highlight of the Lost Lennon tapes radio series 2:46
13 The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill animal noises courtesy of the other Beatles 2:42
14 I’m So Tired with an extra spoken passage: "when I hold you in your arms…" 3:10
15 YerBlues some early lyrics of note here: John is only "insecure" here an not "suicidal" like Dylan's Mr. Jones 3:32
16 Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me & My Monkey lyrically the same but otherwise completely different in feel 2:59
17 What’s The New Mary Jane what's noteworthy is that there's a demo for this song at all 2:40
18 Revolution lacks the "you say you'll change the constitution" verse 4:08
19 While My Guitar Gently Weeps features alternate early lyrics 2:35
20 Circles George dug this one up 14 years later for his Gone Troppo LP 2:19
21 Sour Milk Sea George gave this to Jackie Lomax to record for one of Apple's first releases 3:43
22 Not Guilty George only waited 11 years to get back to this one on his George Harrison LP 3:00
23 Piggies piggies "cut their porkchops" instead of "eat their bacon" here 2:07
CD 2 - Chaos:
E.M.I. Studios, No.3 Abbey Road London, NW8
Tuesday - June 6, 1968
Tr Title CD notes Time
1 Revolution #1 (take 20) playback #1 7:27
2 Revolution #1 (take 20) playback #2 7:18
3 Unfinished Jam #1 7:00
4 Unfinished Jam #2 1:58
5 Revolution #2 (take 1) 2:36
6 Revolution #2/Unfinished Jam #3 1:40
7 Revolution #2 (take 3) 2:02
8 Unfinished Jam #4/Revolution #1 (take 20) playback #3 5:03
9 Unfinished Jam #5 5:59
10 Revolution #1 (take 20) guitar and organ overdub (take 1) 2:36
11 Revolution #1 (take 20) guitar and organ overdub (take 2) 2:08
12 Revolution #1 (take 20) guitar and organ overdub (take 3) 8:32
13 Unfinished Jam #6 1:21
14 Revolution #1 (take 20) playback #4 0:34
15 Dialogue 2:01
16 Revolution #1 (take 20) guitar overdub 0:44
17 Dialogue/Loop Playback 4:39
18 Revolution #1 (take 20) RM1 ("take your knickers off and let's go") 2:22
Assembled from the finest quality master tapes available, From Kinfauns To Chaos documents an ending and a beginning: the end of the Beatles as a cohesive assemblage, and the beginning of John and Yoko as a collective unit. The two-CD set features, on disc one, the most complete, best sounding version to date of the May, 1968 "White Album" demos recorded at George's "Kinfauns" bungalow. Disc two highlights a June, 1968 mixing session for the "slow" version of Revolution, Revolution #1, featuring special (and constant) guest Yoko Ono. Get ready for a wacky, wild ride with the Fab Four (Plus One)!
In many ways, the Beatles' trip to India in March of 1968 to study Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi can be seen as the true turning point of the group being a group. After completing sessions for a stopgap single, "Lady Madonna" / "Inner Light" in early February, they left for Rishikesh united in their desire for enlightenment, but they came back fragmented and somewhat disillusioned. Ringo left the meditation compound after two weeks, blaming bad food, but not before stating that the experience had been "just like Butlin's", the holiday camp where he used to play with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes in the early '60's. Paul flew off after a month, claiming he'd "Gotten as much as he needed". John and George brought up the rear after John had gotten wind of some possible misbehavior by the Yogi regarding one or more of the women who accompanied the Beatles on their trip. This deterioration of the trip was an ominous foreboding of the remainder of the Beatles' career: still a group in theory, but not in group practice.
During the period the four were there, however, the three songwriting Beatles' muses were working overtime, fueled by more "down time" than they had enjoyed in over five years, and the bucolic atmosphere in which they were living. The songs flowed as they hadn't in years... but in their composition the tunes were truly solo efforts, each reflecting John's, Paul's and George's own interests musically, philosophically and spiritually. Between the three composers, almost forty songs were written, most of which would end up on the Beatles' next eponymously-titled LP. Others were left for the last two Beatles album projects, Get Back/Let It Be and Abbey Road. Additional tunes were used were used for future solo projects, in either complete or similar form compared to the 1968 versions, with one in particular, George's "Circles", not seeing the light of day until fourteen years after its composition!
After John and Paul returned form the activities in New York to publicly launch their new company, Apple, in mid-May of 1968, the Beatles did something as a group they had never done prior to this period. The four gathered at George's house, "Kinfauns", in Esher, Surrey around the third week of May to record group demos for almost thirty of the songs they had penned in Rishikesh. While the individual Beatles had all recorded home demos before, the group generally rehearsed their songs at EMI either after having heard the solo demos, or simply after having the writer(s) in question show the others the chord changes, etc., in person. However, never before (and never again) did they join together to undertake something of this rudimentary nature. Recorded on George's four track equipment, the tracks were mixed to mono by George, and John, Paul and Ringo each received copies of this reduction tape.
George held on to the "Kinfauns" masters, and in 1996 was able to claim ownership of them in the credits of the third edition of the Beatles Anthology CD series. Geoff Emerick newly mixed some of these tapes to stereo at the time of Anthology's production, but John's copy of the original mono tape reduction is the source for the CD of this set. While bits of this tape have been heard on The Lost Lennon Tapes (both the radio and Bag records LP series), as well as previous, inferior CD issues, this is the first time that this copy of John's tape has been heard in its entirety, in crisp, glorious mono.
The "Esher Tapes" represent one last great gasp of the Beatles working as a unit, displaying the joy and spontaneity for which they had once been revered. The previous year's activities has severely curtailed such looseness in the recording process, what with the technical marvels of the "Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane" 45, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the other fabs' psychedelic wonders of 1967. Here were the four Beatles, playing and singing with abandon in a wonderfully loose atmosphere. Much of the recording actually echoes the 1965 Beach Boys Party! LP in terms of the taping's laid back approach (not to mention the fact that, as on Party!, one can hear conversations occurring in the background throughout most of the tape!). Never again would the fab four sound this happy; the upcoming sessions for The Beatles would cement that fact.
Another important occurrence during the trip to India was that while John was in Rishikesh, he began to seriously consider pursuing a relationship with the woman who had been a shadowy presence in his life during the previous year and a half: avant garde artiste Yoko Ono. She sent him letters constantly during the trip, often simply featuring cryptic, monosyllabic phrases. John was entranced, and when he returned to the UK, he began his pursuit of Yoko, consummating the relationship in mid-May of 1968.
An immediate result of John's newfound love was that Yoko became a constant presence at all Beatles-related activities from June 1968 on. From film premieres (Yellow Submarine on July 17th), to photo sessions (the multiple location "mad day" photo session on July 28th, though she was not pictured in the photos), to recording sessions (the upcoming "White Album" dates), Ms. Ono was present and accounted for at all of these events. One such happening was the mixing session on June 4th 1968 for the "White Album" version of "Revolution", "Revolution #1, which was recorded on May 31st. Disc two of this collection features the unedited, offline recording of this EMI mixing date, made on John's portable tape recorder.
The thought of hearing this tape sounds extremely tantalizing, particularly when one is aware that this original, "slow" rendering of the Lennon classic (the first track to be worked on for The Beatles) was originally over ten minutes in length. However, Paul and the others objected strongly to the idea that this version should be issued as a single, as John intended. Macca's gripe was primarily that the middle section featured Yoko adding her own unique vocal stylings to the proceedings, not to mention the fact that ten minute singles weren't a particularly commercial concept then or now (not that any of this mattered to John or Yoko). In the end, John capitulated and the "Revolution #1" single idea was scrapped. However, the ten minute version was mixed down, and this Lennon archive tape captures the mixing session. Due to its offline nature, we hear music we've never heard before but, unfortunately, on top of the tune we also hear Yoko pontificating on any matter that crosses her mind. If this happened occasionally, it would be bad enough; however, the motor mouth antics occur throughout the entire tape, as the fabs play on in the background. This makes for a taxing listening experience at best, but one can argue that it's no worse than listening to something like "12 Bar Original"; at least this tape is interesting to hear more than once! Many musical items of note come to the fore, once the listener can tune out the jabbering.
The final six minutes of "Revolution #1" (which went unused on the "White Album", but are heard here) were used as a foundation on which to build the "musique concrete" "Revolution #9", utilizing tape loops, live "vocal performances" and other recorded oddities to build a dense collage of sound. While John (or more specifically Yoko) may have pushed for this "take" to be a single, this was happily not to be. In the end, the band recorded a faster, far superior version of "Revolution" in July of 1968, for placement on the B-side of the Beatles' first single on their own Apple label, Paul's seven minute opus, "Hey Jude". The shortened "Revolution #1" and the nine minute "Revolution #9" would both end up on the fourth side of the double LP "White Album".
Despite the fact that this archive tape is not something a person would pull out often for his or her listening pleasure, it is still a fascinating document of the disintegration of a band, and the genesis of a dysfunctional relationship. While it is admirable that John found what he wanted in a personal sense with Yoko, it is also unfortunate he could not separate his romantic life from his art. He would have, of course, disagreed wholeheartedly with that sentiment, but it can be argued that in a purely musical sense, John was "held back" during the period from mid-1968 to late 1969, writing only a few songs that were among his best. One listen to this "Revolution #1" mixing tape gives ample evidence as to why this was the case. Once he got back in touch with his own muse, particularly after kicking his heroin addiction in mid-1969, the compositional fire returned with songs like "Instant Karma (We All Shine On)" and those which would end up on his first solo LP. Tellingly, these were not written for the Beatles.
Dr. Arthur Jackoff