Elvis Orbison – Almost Beatle Songs

I loaded up YouTube a little while back for my daily dose of new content by one of the creators I subscribe to and found that the algorithm had decided that I liked The Beatles. This is true, but this was something a bit different. The video was called “ABANDONED: This Beatles Jam Was Almost A Masterpiece Pt.1” on a channel called ‘almost beatle songs’. What I got when I clicked on it was some video of the band from the 1969 ‘Get Back’ sessions playing an unreleased/unfinished song called “Watching Rainbows”. The narrator talked about the similarities between it another Beatles song called ‘I’ve Got A Feeling”. The lyric watching rainbows had also been used in a Bee Gees song called ‘Morning Of My Life” which had been recorded in 1968 by Mary Hopkin, who was signed to The Beatles record label, Apple. The video teased that the song could have been a masterpiece if the band had worked on it a bit more and finished it off. Well, the people who produced the video decided to do just that. 

How do you finish off a Beatles song from over 50 years earlier? Well, this story goes back early 1969 when The Beatles met up at Twickenham Film Studio to rehearse material for a potential live concert. It was decided that they would only play new material. Having only just finished the sessions to ‘The Beatles (White Album)’ just over two months previously, there was a dearth of new material. It had also been decided that a film crew would be on hand to record the rehearsals as part of a TV documentary, culminating in the aforementioned live concert. The soundtrack of the film was recorded on two mono Nagra tape recorders. At some point in the 1970’s, these tapes were stolen from The Beatles archive and become a source of numerous bootlegs throughout the years. It was also a treasure trove for Beatles archeologists to hear the band working on new material, some of which never went further than a one off play through. 

So taking these unfinished tracks, using different parts from different takes and in some cases, slicing in some other unreleased material from the sessions, the people behind the channel recorded a more realised take of the song than The Beatles every did. Whilst the video of the song played, dates would appear on the screen showing which date that particular section was taken from. Over the next year, they would release a number of other songs that they had interpreted and it is a selection of these that I present today. 

Side 1

  1. How Do You Tell Someone?
  2. Rambling Woman
  3. I Lost My Little Girl
  4. Suicide
  5. There You Are, Eddie
  6. Watching Rainbows (Melody Version)
  7. Taking A Trip To Carolina

Side 2

  1. Madman
  2. Pillow For Your Head
  3. Child Of Nature
  4. Window Window
  5. Case Of The Blues
  6. Woman
  7. All I Want Is You

All I Want Is You (Lennon)

The original recording sounds nothing more than the band warming up in the studio. Not a lost classic by any stretch of the imagination but this version takes elements of ‘Hey Jude’ and because of this, it finishes the set off nicely.

A Case Of The Blues (Lennon)

As far as I can tell, this was not presented to The Beatles as a song to record during the ‘Let It Be’ sessions, but predates it by about a year. That does not mean it wouldn’t find a home here. The Beatles would resurrect all sorts of songs during these sessions including ‘One After 909” which was one of the earliest songs Lennon and McCartney wrote together. 

Child Of Nature (Lennon)

Inspired by a lecture given by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during The Beatles’ stay in India, early in 1968. The song was demoed for ‘The Beatles’ and played during the ‘Let It Be’ sessions. The melody and the tune were kept but the lyrics would be completely changed before being released on Lennon’s 1971 ‘Imagine’ album. 

How Do You Tell Someone? (Harrison)

A quick run through of this song was as far as The Beatles got with this George Harrison song. 

I Lost My Little Girl (McCartney)

McCartney says that this was one of the first songs he ever wrote on a guitar in around 1956. It was played during there ‘Let It Be’ sessions with John Lennon on lead vocals. The version presented here is a lot darker than the Buddy Holly inspired track that McCartney himself would perform on his “Unplugged’ performance in 1991. 

Madman (Lennon)

Attempted at least twice during the ‘Let It Be’ sessions, the song shares certain similarities to another Lennon song, ‘Mean Mr Mustard’.

Pillow For Your Head (McCartney)

Performed twice during the ‘Let It Be’ sessions, this was never attempted again. The folks over at Almost Beatle Songs needed to have an educated guess as to what some of the lyrics were on this one as the original recording, his vocals are really hard to hear. 

Rambling Woman (Harrison)

On the original recording, this sounds like George Harrison is doing his best Bob Dylan impression. 

Suicide (McCartney)

Another McCartney song that dates from the 1950’s, he is said to have offered it to Frank Sinatra to record but with a title such as this, it would seem that Blue Eyes decided to pass. 

Taking a Trip To Carolina (Starkey)

Unlike the original ‘Let It Be’ album, we have included a song written by Ringo. The original snippet of this song was included on the ‘Fly On The Wall’ bonus disc which was included on the ‘Let It Be…Naked’ album from 2003

There You Are, Eddie (McCartney)

McCartney wrote a song about his dog Martha for the ‘The Beatles’ album. As far as I can tell, this was written about his other dog called Eddie. 

Watching Rainbows (Lennon/McCartney)

The tune is similar to ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ and some of the improvised lyrics hark back to ‘I Am The  Walrus’. 

Window Window (Harrison)

Harrison once again channels his inner Dylan with a bit of Simon and Garfunkel thrown in. Seemingly inspired by his marriage to Patti Boyd. 

Woman (McCartney)

A song that did make it out of the sessions, four years before it was played at the ‘Let It Be’ sessions. McCartney had given this song away to Peter & Gordon but insisted that the writing credit would be for Webb as he wanted to see if the duo would have a hit with a song that was not obviously written by Lennon/McCartney. 

I decided that fourteen songs was the correct amount of songs to include here as the majority of The Beatles UK albums had this number of tracks. There is also a nice balance between the amount of songs the three main songwriters get, including one from Ringo to boot. Listening to these songs lifts the lid on an alternative ‘Let It Be’ album. All songs credited to the member of the band who wrote it. You can find more of the songs recorded by this collective on the aforementioned almost beatles songs YouTube account (https://www.youtube.com/c/almostbeatlessongs), bandcamp (https://elvisorbison.bandcamp.com/album/almost-beatles-songs-vol-2) listed under Elvis Orbison on Spotify as well as their own site (https://almostbeatlessongs.com/). Elvis Orbison is the name used by musician Brett Lyda to complete this project. 

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