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Reference Library: The Beatles Sessions

From: (Kevin G. McGuire)
Subject: The "True" Story Behind "Sessions"
Date: 21 Jan 1995 17:21:46 GMT

[Chicago Sun-Times, Sunday, May 26, 1985]

By Rip Rense (Los Angeles Times)

There's that sound again: The Beatles are coming! The Beatles are coming! Every few years there are reports of "new" Beatles tapes discovered in somebody's garage or basement or back pocket. Most of these stories are like the boy who cried wolf.

This time, however, there is evidence that an album is in the works.

EMI, the Fab Four's old British record company, has put together a new Beatles album--not a repackage of singles and album tracks as were "Love Songs" and "Rock 'n' Roll Music, " released in the late 70s.

Titles "Sessions," the new record is a collection of 13 previously unreleased odds and ends ranging from alternate versions of LP cuts to a George Harrison track that didn't make it on the "White Album."

An executive at Capitol Records, an American subsidiary of EMI, said that "Sessions" was set for release last November, but was bumped because of the release of Paul McCartney's "Give My Regards To Broad Street" album.

What's holding up the release now are McCartney's objections to "Sessions" current format. But that's not the end of the story.

"We're now discussing the matter with the remaining Beatles and representatives of John Lennon's estate with an aim to releasing an album sometime," said Brian Southall, general manager of public relations for EMI records.

Which is to say:

"The format that(EMI) suggested was not acceptable, but one obviously has to start somewhere. And then we move on from there. We move on to other formats now, other suggestions and discussions."

A spokesman for McCartney in London said that "EMI is not throwing you a red herring--I can confirm that discussions are under way. Beyond that, we have nothing to say."

That discussions between EMI and former members of the Beatles(and the Lennon estate) are even taking place is surprising. McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr historically have dismissed the idea of releasing leftover material, saying they issued everything they wanted to.

But now, for the first time, the ex-Beatle with the biggest clout in the matter is publicly not bristling at the idea of releasing old tracks. And, for the first time, EMI records is not only acknowledging that there is enough material for one LP, but that it would be glad to put the album together.


Explained Southall, "There's been an awful lot of demand over the years for various tracks that people have alleged the Beatles recorded. A lot of fans have been forced to buy illegal bootleg recordings of dubious quality and excessive price."

EMI had long acknowledged that it possesses a "few tracks" left over from Beatles recording sessions. In 1980, the company actually planned to release two of them--the Beatles' versions of Johnny Preston's "Leave My Kitten Alone" and Mitch Murray's "How Do You Do It?"--as a single. The plans were cancelled after the murder of John Lennon.

"Obviously we knew we had 'Kitten' and odd tracks and things like that," Outhall said. "But never sufficient material for an album. Now we do."

Southall and the Beatles Committee then came up with "a number of different proposals" for the album. "Label copy"--official listings of songs for forthcoming albums--was sent from EMI to Capitol under the code name "Mary Jane."

The titles on the "Sessions" label copy were the "most significantly interesting" tracks in EMI's vaults, Southall said. The album was to begin, amusingly enough, with the Beatles' version of Badfinger's "Come And Get It"(written by McCartney), possibly featuring only McCartney and Ringo. The rest of side one: "Leave My Kitten Alone," "Not Guilty," an alternate take of "I'm Looking Through You," and "What's The New Mary Jane," the much-bootlegged "debunk the Beatles myth session"(1968) featuring Lennon, Harrison, Yoko Ono and others.

Side two: "How Do You Do It," "Besame Mucho," "One After 909"(an early version dating from 1963), "If You've Got Troubles," "That Means A Lot," an acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," Lloyd Price's "Mailman Blues" from 1969, and a snippet of an original Beatles Christmas song used in their 1967 fan club message titled "Christmastime Is Here Again."

Southall felt it inappropriate to do more than confirm the track titles. Some of the tracks, especially "Christmastime" and "Come And Get It," are not terribly interesting; they are more or less for the curious. "Kitten," however, is a great recording that rivals the power of the Beatles' reading of "Rock and Roll Music." "Not Guilty" is rumored to feature Eric Clapton. Southall confirmed that Clapton and Mick Jagger might be on one or two tracks, but siad that even EMI doesn't know for sure.

Although Southall said EMI has enough material for probably "only one" LP, he expressed interest in collecting other tracks from other sources.

"While there is a little work still to be done(in listening to tapes in EMI's possession), I would suspect that what we have discovered so far is all that we have, " Southall said.

Beatles' fans may have heard that song before.


From: (GrimbleGru)
Subject: Re: Sessions track listing
Date: 14 Dec 1995 12:06:19 -0500

Here is what was supposed to be the lineup of the Sessions LP:

Side One:
Coma And Get It
Leave My Kitten Alone
Not Guilty
I'm Looking Through You
What's The New, Mary Jane?

Side Two: How Do You Do It? Besame Mucho One After 909 If You've Got Troubles That Means A Lot While My Guitar Gently Weeps Mailman Blues Christmas Time (Is Here Again)

Single: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da


From: (Kozinn)
Subject: Re: The Beatles:Sessions
Date: 10 Mar 1996 01:13:10 -0500

RSMENTO wrote:

I believe one of the reasons "Sessions" was never released is because the Beatles considered it second-rate material.

and Kevin Clahoun wrote:

Perhaps another reason was that the Beatles had not yet successfully renegotaited a higher royalty rate from EMI at the time of "Sessions" scheduled release.

Kevin is essentially correct, although it was a little more complicated than that.

Under the agreement that EMI and the Beatles had at the time Sessions was put together (late 1984), EMI *could* have released it without the Beatles permission. (They lost the possibility of doing that in the 1989 agreement).

The reason they didn't was because McCartney objected. Why did he object? That's a little more complex. At the time, McCartney wasn't that keen on releasing outtakes. It wasn't so much that the Beatles considered it second rate material -- if you read their recent interviews, it's clear that despite the wide availability of bootlegs, they weren't very aware of what the unreleased material sounded like. Once they began listening to it, they were as intrigued with it as we are. At any rate, the individual Beatles would have had various reasons to object to Sessions not having so much to do with royalties as with the fact that there were several outstanding grievances that needed to be settled (all of them taken care of in the 1989 agreement).

As for why EMI didn't go ahead and release Sessions without the Beatles' approval, as they could have done, that seems to have been because when it came down to it they considered their potential future relationship with them -- and particularly McCartney, with whom they were at that moment negotiating a new contract (and getting him back from CBS in the US) -- more important than the short term bucks they'd have made on that one release.

So, it wasn't so much a question of the royalty rate as of a long list of other grievances that were not settled until 1989.

Allan (kozinn@aol)

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