Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Beatles - The Get Back Journals II: Discs 1-2

Label: Vigotone, VIGO 138-139

From January 2nd to January 15th, 1969, The Beatles convened at Twickenham Studios in London for their first live performance in over two years. These rehearsals were extensively filmed and recorded, with nearly sixty hours of audio tape resulting. A mere twenty-three minutes were utilized in the film "Let It Be", and less than ten seconds appeared on the album of the same name. Over the past twenty years, portions of the unused recordings have showed up with varying regularity. While showcasing some unique performances and candid dialog, these releases were most often haphazardly put together, with little regard to completeness or chronological order.

This set contains more than nine hours of Twickenham rehearsals (two of them previously unheard), presented in their original context and chronological order. This booklet serves as a complete guide to all the available Twickenham performances and where they can be located. Everything is cross-referenced to the identification numbers assigned in the book "Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image" (which serves as the ultimate authority on all the "Get Back" sessions, Twickenham as well as Apple).

WHAT THIS SET IS, AND WHAT THIS SET ISN'T.

This set is a complement to Vigotone's 8CD set "The Get Back Journals". It seldom duplicates material found on that set, but has been designed to replace many of the "Get Back" session CDs out there, many of which are now out of print and hard to find. In compiling this set, we have tried to keep this in mind, and have omitted material which is widely and currently available elsewhere (for example, on Yellow Dog's "Ultimate Collection" set).

What this set isn't is definitive. All of the material logged in "Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image" is not available to us, and dozens of more hours exist beyond that. Nor have we included every second of material we do have - for example, in keeping this to an 8 CD set we had to trim dialogue here and there - we felt it was more important to include as much music as possible. Another thing this set isn't is Apple. In other words, "Journals 2" only goes as far as the end of the Twickenham sessions on January 15th, 1969. The Apple sessions will have to wait until "Journals 3". Now let's take a closer look at what we have there, disc by disc:

Disc One
Total Time: 73:38

DISC ONE features a great deal of previously unheard "All Things Must Pass" rehearsals, which includes George's "you're so full of shit" comment to Paul (which is clearly not the "punky put on" that Beatle history has painted it to be). Certainly the highlight of this disc is a lengthy oldies jam session from January 6th, featuring never-before-heard performances of "Sure To Fall" and "Right String, Wrong Yo-Yo".

Title DDSI
1 Sun King 3.46
2 (improvisation) 3.47
3 All Things Must Pass 3.61
All Things Must Pass 3.62
4 All Things Must Pass 3.67
5 All Things Must Pass 3.68
6 All Things Must Pass 3.69
7 All Things Must Pass 3.70
8 (improvisation) 3.71
9 All Things Must Pass 3.72
10 All Things Must Pass 3.73
11 All Things Must Pass 3.74
12 All Things Must Pass 3.75
13 All Things Must Pass 3.76
14 (unknown) 3.77
Back In The U.S.S.R. 3.78
15 Every Little Thing 3.79
16 Piece Of My Heart 3.80
17 Sabre Dance 3.81
18 Piece Of My Heart 3.82
19 "Over And Over Again" 3.83
20 I've Been Good To You 3.85
21 Maxwells Silver Hammer 3.86
22 I Want You 3.88
23 "I'm Gonna Pay For His Ride" 3.89
24 Don't Let Me Down 3.90
25 Oh! Darling 6.1
26 C'mon Marianne 6.2
27 I've Got A Feeling 6.3
28 I've Got A Feeling 6.4
29 High School Confidential 6.5
30 I've Got A Feeling 6.6
31 Hear Me Lord 6.7
32 Hear Me Lord 6.9
33 (improvisation) 6.10
34 Tracks if My Tears 6.11
35 Dizzy Miss Lizzy 6.12
36 Money (That's What I Want) 6.13
37 Fools Like Me 6.14
38 Sure To Fall 6.15
39 Right String, Wrong Yo-Yo 6.16
40 I'm Talking About You 6.17

Disc Two
Total Time: 70:74

DISC TWO: features a great deal of historically important recordings. First off are fragments of a lengthy conversation about the planned live performance which clearly illustrate how Yoko had usurped John's role in the decision making process of the group. This is followed by an incredibly extensive look at the evolution of "Don't Let Me Down", with over forty minutes of rehearsal presented in their original context for the first time. Capping off the disc is an unedited presentation of the "fight" between Paul and George, which was presented in a distorted manner in the film "Let It Be".

Title DDSI
1 Live Show Dialogue (none)
2 Don't Let Me Down 6.18
3 Don't Let Me Down 6.19
4 Don't Let Me Down 6.20
Don't Let Me Down 6.21
5 Don't Let Me Down 6.22
6 Don't Let Me Down 6.23
7 Don't Let Me Down 6.24
8 Don't Let Me Down 6.25
9 Don't Let Me Down 6.26
10 Don't Let Me Down 6.27
11 Don't Let Me Down 6.28
12 Don't Let Me Down 6.29
13 Don't Let Me Down / Send Me Some Lovin' 6.30
14 Don't Let Me Down 6.31
15 Don't Let Me Down 6.32
16 Two of Us 6.33
17 Two of Us 6.34
18 Two of Us 6.35
19 Two of Us 6.36
20 Two of Us 6.37
21 Two of Us 6.38

The Twickenham Sessions - A Bootleg History:
For over 20 years the collecting public has been fed a continuing stream of bootlegs drawn from the Twickenham sessions. These have usually been chopped up, placed out of sequence, and presented in inferior sound quality.

Of course, bootleggers can only work from material at their disposal, and in the beginning the only material available was the film "Let It Be". The first Twickenham material to appear, then, came from the soundtrack of the film on a double album called "Cinelogue: Let It Be", which was released in February, 1974 by Contra Band Music. Of course, this was back in the days before home video, so fans were more than delighted to be able to enjoy the "Let It Be" soundtrack on record!

The release of the "Let It Be" videotape in 1982 provided a new audio source, and bootlegs produced after that date were mastered from the video soundtrack, rather than film. The first of these was "In a Play Anyway", a 2 LP set on Circuit Records (matrix number TWK 2262). A further reissue by Beeb Transcription Records (on a new plate TR-2170) was titled "The Last Blast". It was released in 1988 and its sound quality is slightly inferior. Of course, most of the film soundtrack from Twickenham is completely useless because longer source tapes have surfaced (and the few bits that you would still need can be found on this set and "Get Back Journals").

In late 1974 the first completely unreleased Twickenham outtakes surfaced on the legendary "Sweet Apple Trax" LPs. These were originally released as two two-LP sets by CBM using the Instant Analysis label (matrix numbers 4182-REV-2000 and 4181-STD-2002). This phenomenal series was among the most enjoyable vinyl bootlegs of its era, and many of us listened to it for hours on end, leading to a lifelong addiction to this stuff. By the way, these LPs were originally announced under the title "The Apple Treasure Chest Masters, Vol. 1 & 2". When they finally appeared, they had "deluxe" printed sepia-toned jackets. A late '70's repress from the original plates came with blank white labels and black and white covers which were copies of the originals.

The "Sweet Apple Trax" LPs were copied almost immediately by Kornyphone, which combined the material onto a single double set called "Hahst Az Sun" (TAKRL-2950). This prompted CBM to remaster their own release as a double album in order to compete. It was distributed under the title "Hot As Sun" (matrix number 4216 REV 2000 / 4217 BLD 2002) on the Instant Analysis label. In 1980, single LP repressings of "Hot As Sun" were distributed as "Sweet Apple Tracks Crate 1" and "Sweet Apple Tracks Crate 2". It might be noted that the Kornyphone issue "Hahst Az Sun" rearranged the songs and omitted a few seconds here and there. This set was copied many times and reissued on a variety of single LP bootlegs, and with a full color cover as "Sweet Apple Trax" on the Newsound Records label (matrix NR 909-1). The Newsound plates were also used for picture discs which came out under the titles "Sweet Apple Trax Vol. 1" and "Sweet Apple Trax Vol. 2". The original source tapes were remastered by Audifon records for the first 2 records of the 3 LP set "The Beatles" (commonly known as "The Black Album" released in May, 1981). These plates were subsequently used for the first three albums of the original "Get Back Journals" vinyl boxed set. More recently, an hour of the original tapes were released on CD in "Songs From The Past Vol. 3". All of the material was included on the first "Get Back Journals" CD set.

The next batch of Twickenham outtakes to appear were on the EPs "Twickenham Jams", which popped up in February 1977 (matrix VC­4591) and "Watching Rainbows" (which appeared in May 1977), This material soon appeared on bootleg albums of the same names. "Watching Rainbows" (which had more material than the EP of the same name) came from Audifon in March of 1978, "Twickenham Jams" was a straight knock-off on the label Smilin' Ears (filling out the LP with non-"Get Back" sessions material). Most of the "Watching Rainbows" performances showed up on "The Black Album" in better quality, and the few moments that didn't are included here on "Get Back Journals 2". It might be noted that a second edition of "Watching Rainbows" came out in July of 1978. This upgraded the sound quality of the "Watching Rainbows"/"Madman"/"Mean Mr. Mustard" tape, cutting off some of the "Watching Rainbows" jam in the process (but don't worry, it was restored back on "Get Back Journals"). Copies of the "Watching Rainbows" LP appeared on the 2 LP set "Behind Closed Doors" and the boxed set "So Much Younger Then".

Collectors had to wait a couple of years for the next batch of Twickenham outtakes to surface. Oddly enough, the first taste of a new tape came in the form of a sampler tape, reproduced at the end of a one-sided record from Tobe Milo called "Man of The Decade" which came out in early 1980. This rather useless bootleg reproduced bits and pieces of various January 3rd performances which were unbootlegged up to that time. Later in the year the entire tape appeared on an album called "Vegemite". This record was quite difficult for American collectors to find, and was the first product from a bootlegger who later went on to fame for his CD product under the "Goblin" label. The 2 LPs of "Vegemite" (BT- 6896) gave us our first exposure to the January 2nd /3rd material, albeit in lousy sound quality. The set was copied in 1981 by JM Records as 2 single LPs and retitled "The Dream is Over Vol. 1" (JPM1081) ard "The Dream is Over Vol. 2" (JPM280102) in slightly lesser sound quality. These, in turn, were quickly copied by Sweet Sound Records as "Sweet Apple Trax Vol. III" (W-909) in even worse sound quality, and the Sweet Sound master (which was not even complete) was copied onto picture disc by another bootlegger (matrix SA-3909). Great Line Concerts copied it as a double album called "Apple Trax Vol.2" (15802), and Strawberry Records later copied this issue as part of its 6 LP compilation "Apple Trax", and single LP series "Applemania".

Knock-offs aside, all of the material here appears on the "Get Back Journals" CDs, as well as "Songs From The Past Vol.4" and "Songs From The Past Vol. 5" CDs - usually in much improved sound quality.

In May 1981 one of the classic bootlegs appeared or the Ruthless Rhymes label -"The Beatles" ("Black Album"). A parody of the legitimate "White Album" which could only have appeared during the late, lamented vinyl age. This bootleg included a wonderful "alternate" poster which neatly complimented the original. The first two LPs here were simply repressings of the TAKRL "Hahzt As Sun" plates, but the third album offered a significant upgrade in quality to the "Watching Rainbows" material, as well as adding 5 numbers which hadn't appeared up to this point. This set was subsequently repressed by Box Top, and the stampers were used for the first 3 LPs of the vinyl "Get Back Journals" set. A copy of the "Black Album" (from a different bootlegger) was issued or the EVA label or plate LP A/B/C/D/E/F. This omitted one of the versions of "One After 909".

At the end of '81 new "Get Back" session bootleg began to filter out of Europe (with both a black and white and full color cover). This was called "Her Majesty" and featured a few new songs from Twickenham, plus a whole bunch of Apple stuff which hadn't been heard before. It was almost as awful in sound quality as "Vegemite", and is completely useless at this point, since all of its material has appeared in better quality on CD. An American bootleg called "Wonderful Picture of You" copied the "Get Back" material on it from "Her Majesty". This title has also been copied as part of the boxed set called "Apple Trax", and by Great Live Concerts as "Sweet Apple Trax Vol. 3" (15803). Finally, someone had the bright idea of copying the entire LP onto CD - direct from vinyl.

In September 1983, "King Records" put out "I Had a Dream", a new bootleg of "Get Back" sessions which was entirely Apple. This was followed the next month by "Almost Grown" (MLK-002), an enjoyable hodge-podge of material from both Twickenham and Apple. Many of the performances here were later included in the original "Get Back Journals" and "Songs From The Past Vol. 5" (CD) and by this time the entire LP is quite useless.

Almost a year later, in September 1984, King Records issued the last in their series of "Get Back" bootlegs, this one called "Singing The Blues" (MLK-003). Only a couple of songs came from Twickenham, and these, too, are now found elsewhere in better sound quality.

In September of 1986 the most ambitious "Get Back" bootleg to date surfaced, called "The Get Back Journals". This came two ways, in a deluxe film box, and in regular small boxes held together by a simple color wrap-around. While the set had eleven discs, it was flawed by poor sound quality and ever worse pressing quality. It was reissued in 1993 on CD with a couple of hours of new material added, and a significant upgrade in the sound quality. Needless to say, it contained much material unavailable to collectors up to that time (much of it from Apple). The entire vinyl set was copied by SUMA records under a variety of names and having even worse sound quality.

In January 1988 Core Ltd. released "Code Name Russia" (BL 888-2), an excellent quality bootleg composed entirely of Twickenham outtakes. Most of the performances here were entirely new, and quite enjoyable - and most of them were copied onto CD in September 1988 from the tape source as part of the "Songs From The Past" series (Volume 2 and a small part of Volume 1, to be precise). "Songs From The Past" Vol. 1 and 2 have, in turn, been rendered obsolete by the two "Get Back Journals" CD sets (at least as far as Twickenham material is concerned).

At the end of '88 another "Get Back" session bootleg appeared on the Tiger Beat label (a subsidiary of the legendary Starlight Records company). This LP, "Bye Bye Love", was a knock-off of (most of) the soundtrack from a videotape of "Let It Be" outtakes which was in common circulation among collectors (more of the video soundtrack appears on Tiger Beat's "Classified Document Vol. 3" LP). It's extraordinarily difficult to listen to, both because the performances are poor and choppy and the sound quality sucks. Needless to say, the "Get Back Journals" set will try to see to it that you never need go out of your way to find this hunk of vinyl.

In 1989 "Songs From The Past" Vol. 3-5 appeared. While Vol.3 offered us an hour of the "Sweet Apple Trax" mastertape, Vol. 4 and 5 gave us a significant upgrade of much of the material which had previously appeared on "Vegemite" (with some bits omitted here and there, and some bits added). It's all academic at this point, since if you have both 'Journals" CD boxes you don't need the "Songs From The Past Vol.3-5" CDs at all.

1990 saw the rise of Yellow Dog Records. Throughout this decade they have issued a number of important releases featuring "Get Back" material. The first two of these ("Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 5" and "Celluloid Rock") featured only material from Apple. The next two ("Get Back and 22 Other Songs" and "Complete Rooftop Concert") both centered on Apple also but featured some new and/or upgraded Twickenham performances as part of their "bonus" tracks. These were followed by the outstanding release "All Things Must Pass, Part l", which contained "Get Back" session performances featuring George on lead vocal. This disc was split almost evenly between Apple and Twickenham, with many of the performances being previously unheard. Needless to say, all the Twickenham material contained on the discs mentioned above can be found on the two "Get Back Journals" boxes.

Yellow Dog's next "Get Back" release was "WBCN Get Back Reference Acetate", which contained Apple material coupled with a 33+ minute "bonus" track of January 14th material (primarily dialogue, and painfully boring dialogue at that). This material, drawn from the identical source tape, later appeared (along with more dull January 14th dialogue), on "Rockin' Movie Stars Volume 3". This was the last Yellow Dog "Get Back" release for some time, and the void was filled by a company calling itself "Blue Kangaroo", which released three discs full of (mostly) new material. The first of the volumes of "'69 Rehearsals" contained only Apple material. The latter two featured much new Twickenham material (which is gathered on this set and returned to its original context). Also released during this period was "Hail Hail Rock 'n' Roll", which featured a number of new Apple performances, but only four Twickeoham performances, and "Corn of the Apple", which is equally short on Twickenham.

Yellow Dog returned to the "Get Back" sessions with the 1994 release of "All Things Must Pass, Part 2", another excellent quality set of performances featuring George on vocal. This was followed immediately by "The Auction Tapes, Volume 1:, which was a hodgepodge of Twickenham and Apple material, some of it previously unheard and all of it in great quality. The Twickenham material from these two discs is of course found on the "Journals" boxes, and expect the Apple material to be found on a future release. Yellow Dog followed these with "Rock and Roll", an exceptional disc which featured more than 50 oldies performances from the sessions, a virtual encyclopedia of the group's roots. This disc is a necessary compliment to the "Journals" boxes because it upgrades the sound quality on some material on "The Get Back Journals". Because you'll need it anyway for the "Journals 1" upgrade, we elected not to include the new Twickenham material on it here on "Journals 2".

1994 also saw the advent of Orange Records, a subsidiary of Yellow Dog, which released an eight volume set of "Get Back" material entitled "Rockin' Movie Stars". While much of this material was previously unheard, the discs were haphazardly arranged, often duplicating each other and sometimes containing incomplete or inferior versions of things already issued. With the exception of the third volume (which contains a chronologically correct presentation of much of the horrid January 14th session), none of these discs feature Twickenham material not found on the "Journals" boxes.

Late in 1994,Yellow Dog issued the first of three boxed sets entitled "The Ultimate Collection". Each of these four CD sets feature one full disc of Twickenham material (the rest being non-"Get Back" session material). Taken together, the three discs present ALL extant January 2nd tapes, as well as the first half hour of January 3rd. Since these releases cover this portion of the "Get Back" sessions so comprehensively, we have ignored that area completely on this boxed set.

So you're probably saying "thanks for the history lesson, guys, but what releases do I need to have all of Twickenham? :Well, thanks to this release, very few. To be precise, "Get Back Journals" (Vigotone VIGO101-108), "Get Back Journals 2" (this set), "Rock and Roll" (Yellow Dog YD054), "Rockin' Movie Stars Volume 3" (Orange 7) and the three "Ultimate Collection" boxes (Yellow Dog). This will give you all of the Twickenham material currently available. So, until "Journals 3..."

1 comment:

Dr. Winston O'Booggie said...

Love reading the article, traced me back to my own roots, when I was a 13, 14, 15 year-old kid and always was buying these rare bootlegs... I think that Yellow Dog Records had the greatest catalogue at the time. I don't really know what's happening right now in the bootleg world...