Everybody had a hard year, but Getintothis’ Will Neville digs it that a brand new Beatles film is in the works and collects nine must-see moments that should make the cut.
It was announced last month that Academy Award-winning director Sir Peter Jackson is to create a new Beatles film based on never-before-seen footage from the Get Back sessions, that eventually morphed into the Let It Be film that hit cinemas in May 1970.
The Beatles were filmed rehearsing material for a new album in January 1969, for what was originally intended to be a TV special. The band started off at the cold and inhospitable Twickenham Studios, before retreating to Apple later in the month.
Proceedings climaxed with the famous roof-top concert at the Apple building, which also formed the conclusion of the Let It Be film.
As well as the Let It Be album, other songs filmed at these sessions were later revisited to become part of Abbey Road, which was released in September 1969, or on solo albums such as McCartney and George Harrison’s classic All Things Must Pass.
While most of the music recorded has circulated unofficially for many years, little of the video footage has been seen before, so fans are unsurprisingly thrilled at this rare extended opportunity to see the fab four at work in the studio.
Almost as exciting for fans, is the news that a restored version of the original Let It Be movie directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg will also be made available. This was released on video and laser disc formats in fairly poor quality in the early 1980’s, but has been out of print for decades and has never made it to DVD.
Here are “number nine, number nine, number nine” things that hardcore Beatles nuts will be hoping to see in the new film.
9. Two of them joking around
Two Of Us was rehearsed extensively on day thirteen (by now at Apple), but the next day provides a host of interesting versions, which are relaxed and even playful. John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing in exaggerated German, Scottish, French and Jamaican accents, as well as adding odd sound effects, while Lennon also does a Bob Dylan impersonation.
8. Getting back to their roots
Despite some fractious moments in the studio, much of the time was spent good-naturedly rehearsing new material such as Let It Be, Get Back and The Long And Winding Road. They also rattled off covers of many favourites from their youths, originally recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley, Bo Diddley and Gene Vincent.
Many of these were throwaways, but day four alone brought lively versions of Chuck Berry’s Rock And Roll Music (already released on 1964’s Beatles For Sale), Gone Gone Gone by Carl Perkins, Little Richard’s Lucille and Ray Charles’ What’d I Say. A proper album of cover versions, played with the intention of being released, would have been a wonderful thing at this stage of their career.
7. George blooming
George Harrison recorded a number of his new songs in the Get Back sessions which failed to gain the band’s seal of approval, helping to build up the backlog that led to his brilliant triple (!) debut album proper All Things Must Pass. As well as I Threw It All Away, Isn’t It A Pity and the album’s title track, other numbers he brought to the party included Bob Dylan’s Mama, You Been on My Mind (from 1964’s Another Side Of Bob Dylan).
6. Never heard of again songs
Plenty of songs were tried and dropped, never to reappear anywhere. John’s 12-bar blues-based Suzy’s Parlour aka Suzy Parker and Penina by Paul both featured on day six. John’s Madman, which sounds a little like a precursor to Mean Mr. Mustard, was rolled out on day nine, as was his Watching Rainbows which brings I Am The Walrus to mind slightly, but was yet another bluesy tune of his from this time.
5. Just more!
The Beatles recorded over 400 different songs during these sessions, many in multiple takes as they tried to perfect them for release or inclusion in a live setting. However, many were done as quick one-offs. Apart from the rock ‘n’ roll covers already mentioned, they also revisited a number of their own early recordings such as each of their first three singles – Love Me Do, Please Please Me and From Me To You.
Other songs to get an outing, which it would be fascinating to see being attempted, include early compositions that ended up in the hands and voices of others like Step Inside Love (Cilla Black), and songs that were held over for solo careers. John’s Gimme Some Truth saw release on Imagine in 1971, with Child Of Nature reworked as Jealous Guy for the same album, while Paul’s Hot As Sun and Junk both featured on 1970’s McCartney. That’s on top of George’s outpouring.
4. Political controversy
It seems highly unlikely we’ll get to see the less-than-PC lyrics that Paul sung to Get Back on day six in an attempt to parody the right-wing likes of MP Enoch Powell (“Don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs”). On the same day, McCartney again addressed racial concerns that were a hot topic of the time in Commonwealth, a 1950’s-style rocker with Paul channelling his inner Elvis as he sings lyrics such as “Wilson said to the immigrants you’d better get back to your commonwealth homes… If you don’t want trouble, then you better go back to home”.
Somehow, I suspect these may get vetoed from the new film.
3. Paul tinkering alone
Day six of sessions started with only Paul present (possibly as he only lived a short stroll away from the studios in Abbey Road). On this day, he debuted Hey Majesty (later to appear on Abbey Road) and Another Day, a solo single in 1971. He also returned to The Palace Of The King Of The Birds, an instrumental he revisited in 1978 for an unreleased Rupert The Bear album, which he had trotted out in two previous sessions.
2. Switching roles
Macca ‘s Get Back was yet another international smash hit song when released as a single in April 1969. However, while rehearsing the song on the morning of day seven, with the lyrics still a work in progress (although Tucson, Arizona was now the centre of the action at least), John Lennon takes the lead vocals instead of Paul McCartney.
Another treat might be to see Paul singing John’s White Album number I’m So Tired from day two, or Strawberry Fields Forever on day sixteen. However, we can probably live without seeing John singing Paul’s Maxwell’s Silver Hammer in a heavy German accent.
1. Eric in, George out
Possibly the most notorious moment in the Let It Be film is when George responds to perceived criticism from Paul about his guitar playing on Two Of Us on day three, saying:
“I’ll play whatever you want me to play, or I won’t play at all if you don’t want me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I’ll do it.”
We’d love to see on screen the moment when John Lennon proposes Eric Clapton as a replacement for George in the immediate aftermath of him walking out on the group during the seventh day of filming:
“Let’s get in Eric. He’s just as good and not such a headache.”
Sadly, it appears that the major fight which led to his walk-out happened in the canteen, so was not recorded. Rumours have it this was started by Yoko Ono helping herself to one George’s biscuits, uninvited. Seriously. Seeing George’s kiss-off line “see you ’round the clubs” would also be something. There’s no need to see or hear much of the remaining trio’s rather aimless meandering until the guitarist returned for day ten.
However many of these nine eventually feature in the new film, it will hopefully be well worth the wait.