Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some Other Guy (in which I am thwarted by math)

The bitter realities of math are setting in, kids. The subtitle of this blog is a lie: there is, in fact, not a Beatles song for every day of the year. Not a unique Beatles song, anyway, and not a 100% authorized non-bootleggy Beatles song. (I'm sticking to the catalog here, more or less, just because that's what's readily available to all. I don't want to be one of those sites that's all smarmy about who owns the rarest, weirdest Beatles recordings; I'd lose that battle, and anyway it's a BORING battle. If you want bootlegs, there are a zillion other sites to talk about them.) I'm not sure why I didn't think of this sooner. But I only count a little over 200 unique songs in the official catalog, and that's IF I did potentially asinine things. Like write about "Sgt. Pepper" and "Sgt. Pepper Reprise" as two separate posts, or separate out the different pieces of the B side of Abbey Road, or write about the various Across the Universe versions in individual posts (maybe less asinine?), or bother to write anything at all about studio jerkoffs like "Maggie Mae."

So what to do? I don't really want to write about solo stuff; even when I like it, it's never as meaty or interesting. No bootlegs, as I've said. Maybe I'll end up repeating myself-- I mean, it's not like I haven't already listened to every song here about 10 trillion times. Well, whatever. Fact is that at bare minimum, I'm going to have to look beyond what the Beatles released in the 1960s. And that leads me naturally to what I feel is the best of the Beatles post-mortem efforts, Live at the BBC.

This came out when I was in high school, right before the flurry around the Anthology project, and it was pretty exciting to have new stuff to listen to, though it was fairly different-sounding to a high schooler like me who considered "Tomorrow Never Knows" and such like to be the TRULY, you know, DEEP stuff from the Beatles catalog. I feel differently about it now. I think this album is the best way to (legally) experience anything approaching seeing the Beatles live. It's all live shows recorded for BBC Radio between 1962 and 1965, lots of covers and early stuff, and it's raw and full of mistakes and totally high-energy and just fun as hell to listen to. There is certainly profundity here for those who seek it.

"Some Other Guy" was recorded, my handy liner notes tell me, on June 23, 1963, in front of a live audience at London's Playhouse Theatre. The errant screams from the fangirls on the recording make it that much more immediate. The song was written by Leiber-Stoller-Barrett (which explains why it's so good) and performed by Richie Barrett, but for some reason it never became much of a hit. There's a terrific grinding almost-only-one-note guitar solo to kick it off. Then John and Paul start in singing together, spitting out the mouthful of lyrics, which are all about being lonely and stuff, but come off as way more euphoric (as happens in rock and roll) thanks to the beat. It's rare to hear the two of them sing together in unison the whole way through like this-- and it sounds like they're racing toward the finish.

If this one's unfamiliar to you, you gotta fix that. At least check out the video below, from the Anthology documentary and shot in the Cavern. I'm not positive the overdubbed recording is the exact same as from Live at the BBC, but I think it probably is.
If you can't at least bop your head around to this song, you might be a cyborg.

"Some Other Guy," released in the U.K. disc 1 track 11 of Live at the BBC, November 30, 1994; in the U.S. disc 1 track 11 of Live at the BBC, December 6, 1994.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't resist your many plugs for Revolution in The Head, in which whatshisname notes, I noted this morning, that this was one of two signature live Beatle songs; I think the other was Roll Over Beethoven?