The release of the Beatles back catalogue on vinyl prompted MOJO magazine to find out which of the fab four’s ‘deep cuts’ its readers liked the best. Last week the editor Phil Alexander alongside music biz and Beatles luminaries gathered in studio 2 at Abbey Road, the place where many of the band’s songs were recorded, and discussed the results. Assembled for the occasion were journalist John Harris, 6Music DJ and one time pop star Tom Robinson, Beatleographer Kevin Howlett, musician Robyn Hitchcock and one time Icicle Works frontman Ian McNabb. The event was compered by TV presenter Colin Murray and the new vinyl was spun by the man who mastered it, Sean McGee on a Rega RP6 turntable with a Dynavector P75 Mk3 phono stage. Amplification was Classé and speakers Bowers & Wilkins Diamond 800s, a system that worked extremely well in the cavernous space that is studio 2.
Robyn Hitchcock sings Yes It Is
The idea was to reveal great Beatles tracks that don’t get the exposure they deserve so anything from the red or blue albums was out. Given this restriction the panellists nominated their favourite lesser known tunes, Phil Alexander who, controversially, “grew up in a Stones house” chose It’s All Too Much while John Harris went for Getting Better from Sgt. Pepper’s. Tom Robinson and Kevin Howlett went for numbers from the early sixties, Robinson plumping for There’s A Place from the Twist and Shout EP and Howlett went for All I’ve Got To Do for the way it assimilated R’n’B and was apparently “Lennon trying to do the Miracles”. Robyn Hitchcock and Ian McNabb both homed in on the mid sixties period that has proved so influential, Hitchcock selecting Ticket to Ride and McNabb choosing Rain. He said that much of its appeal lay in the sound which resulted from the use of ATOC (automatic transient overload control), a variation on the theme of compression created by the engineers at Abbey Road. McNabb even went so far as to sing Rain including the backwards section at the end, a definite crowd pleaser.
Ian McNabb sings Rain
Not many of the panel's choices actually made the cut as voted for by MOJO readers however, they went for:
1. Tomorrow Never Knows
2. Hey Bulldog
4. Happiness is a Warm Gun
5. And Your Bird Can Sing
6. For No One
7. Dear Prudence
8. It’s All Too Much
9. Long Long Long
10. I’m Only Sleeping
11. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
12. Helter Skelter
13. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
14. She Said She Said
A list which is dominated by Lennon songs with Macca and Harrison only getting two apiece, but this essentially indicates that McCartney wrote the hits which were not eligible for this vote. There was plenty of dissent from the panel about this selection not least because it doesn’t contain anything from the first half of the band’s catalogue nor Sgt. Pepper’s for that matter.
After Hitchcock had sung Yes It Is the panel drew up a list of 'glaring omissions' containing the following numbers in no particular order:
Within You Without You
Yes It Is
All I’ve Gotta Do
What You’re Doing
It Won’t Be Long
You’re Going To Lose That Girl
Things She Said Today
Several songs inspiring the musicians on the panel to give us a few bars which was fun, I can’t imagine Tom Robinson does much of that anymore.
The vinyl sounded pretty good but I’m waiting for next years mono pressings before I invest, if they are as good as the mono CDs we’re in for a treat.