Tuesday, January 13, 2009

All Together Now

Today I once again have a great tip from DM's Beatles Site, which alerts me that on this date in 1969 the Yellow Submarine LP was released in the U.S. The film was released in the States November of the prior year, and this was its (belated) soundtrack, which means that side A features Beatles songs from the film (asterisk asterisk) and side B features film instrumental pieces by George Martin.

Yellow Submarine was done to fulfill a contractual obligation the Beatles had with United Artists, and it was planned to require the least amount of actual Beatles' participation possible-- as a cartoon. All the band had to do was submit songs for a soundtrack, though they didn't even REALLY do that. Only four new songs made it onto the film soundtrack, and then one of them (the best one, in my opinion) didn't even make it into the film's U.S. version for some ridiculous reason. (Though the "Hey Bulldog" sequence has thankfully been restored in the latest DVD version.) None of the four songs are particularly substantive, but then, they were saving their best songs for their real albums. It just must have been kind of a bummer to pay for an LP and find you got 4 songs, 2 songs you already owned, and a whole side of not-that-great movie soundtrack stuff.

Anyway, despite the Beatles' lack of more active participation, Yellow Submarine is an AWESOME movie with wicked cool animation, a weird sense of humor, and a healthy appreciation of the mythology of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Despite their disdain for the project, even the Beatles loved it when they saw it at. Who couldn't?

I'm not going to listen to "Yellow Submarine" today, because, obviously, that belongs on Revolver. Instead, I'll check out "All Together Now," one of the four film originals, which they seem to have liked enough to have included in the film twice (there's a reprise at the end in which the Beatles, live and in person, lead the audience in the song). It's a song that works for the sunny-eyed optimism of the movie: a children's song that's as brainless as a jumprope rhyme. And they bring out fun instruments like ukelele and banjo and harmonica (played by George), and add a rousing final chorus of (I presume) all the various people hanging around the studio. But it definitely doesn't capture all the fun and magic and youthfulness of "Yellow Submarine," no matter how much they're trying to do so. There's just less to hang all that wonder on.

I don't know. I don't feel like there's much else to say. I always like listening to it, but now I have a feeling that I'm going to have it stuck in my head all day.

"All Together Now," released in the U.K. side A track 3 of Yellow Submarine, January 17, 1969; released in the U.S. side A track 3 of Yellow Submarine, January 13, 1969.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous Beatles-Discography.com.

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