This song, which found its way to Anthology 1, was part of the set that the Beatles played at their Decca audition. The Decca people have gone down in history for being stupid enough to actually reject the Beatles. (One of my favorite Beatles quotes: Paul-- "I'll bet they're kicking themselves now." John-- "I hope they kick themselves to death.") But then when you look at the Decca setlist, you start to wonder if it was the best conceived setlist ever, and if it really showed off their true potential. Other than "Money (That's What I Want)," there's none of the harder rocking stuff that I personally love most from the Beatles early on in their career, and there's some stuff that sounds like they were trying to make nicey-nice with squares of a certain generation, like "Till There Was You" and "September in the Rain" and freaking "Besame Mucho." But clearly fate had greater things in store, for if Decca HAD signed them, they wouldn't have worked with George Martin at Parlophone, and Beatles history would have been much different and probably less interesting. So everything worked out in the end.
And yet all that was still in the future when George took the lead vocal on "Three Cool Cats" for the Decca execs. This adorable almost-novelty song was written by Leiber and Stoller and originally performed by the Coasters, released as the B-side to their "Charlie Brown" single.
While the original is fairly hip, thanks to that smooth vocal sound of the Coasters (who totally rule, by the way), the Beatles' version has a sort of sublime silliness to it. The faster tempo they take helps. Note too that the Coasters' version only does the bridge once, but the Beatles repeat it, because the "hey man save one chick for me moment" is awesome enough that it merits repeating. (For the record, I've played the song a few times now, and my husband, who is pacing around the apartment idly, cracks up every single time that part comes on. Rightly so.) George delivers an excellent vocal here, don't you think? He sounds as assured and snarly and sexy and potentially dangerous as a truly Cool Cat should sound. He also adapts the Coasters' horn solo to guitar effectively, if slightly tentatively.
And with that, this cool chick is heading out for brunchies.
"Three Cool Cats," released in the U.K. disc 1 track 16 of Anthology 1, November 20, 1995; in the U.S. November 21, 1995.