Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Wednesday is sometimes All-Day Meeting Day in my infinitely less interesting non-Beatles life, so I'm slacking off with an Anthology 1 quickie today. Don't worry-- I already have something more elaborate planned for tomorrow. Ooo, suspense!

Though these songs are fun in their own right, right? I mean, today's track sounds like an also-ran for the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, which has gotta be worth something.

"Cayenne" is a gigantic enigma, the rare Beatles track that hasn't been catalogued within an inch of its life. Very little is known about it except the following: it's credited to Paul alone, and not to Lennon-McCartney. It was recorded at Paul's home in Liverpool in the spring or early summer of 1960, along with a couple other random tracks like "You'll Be Mine." It's an instrumental, as were many other early songs by John and Paul now lost to the ether, and it features a four-guitar lineup sans drums (that's Stu Sutcliffe on bass, by the way). The early iterations of the Beatles always had problems nailing down a drummer-- drummers were rare in the Liverpool rock scene, just because most kids were much more likely to be able to afford a guitar than a drum set. Famously, the Beatles tended to book gigs around town without bothering to mention that they didn't have a drummer, and when they showed up without one and were asked, they tended to say breezily, "The rhythm's in the guitars."

Well, it's not like they're exactly making rock and roll here with their drumless texture, but those backup guitars are doing their best to get a driving Spanishy sort of rhythm going, and it's not bad. The playing all around is kind of messy, but that's likely the recording as much as anything else. I like the way the rhythm guitars go into almost a double-time feel (at about 1:04 on the video above), and the way the lead (leads?) gets all improvisatory. I mean, it's very pleasant, you know? It sounds part Spanish, part surf-rock, and just nice and mellow. Though I'm not sure it exactly hints at the level of greatness to come, Paul wrote this at 17, and if nothing else, it's a solid effort that does presage some kind of musical career for our young Paulie. Though clearly he's still finding his voice. "Cayenne" sounds like a lot of things, but to my ear, it doesn't sound much at all like a Beatles song.

So today is one of those days when I just need to have a listen and then get on with everything else. Off I go with it! Woo.

"Cayenne," released in the U.K. disc 1 track 8 of Anthology 1, November 20, 1995; in the U.S. November 21, 1995.

1 comment:

  1. I never heard this before. It is actually rather hypnotic, the way the lead chases around. And as you say, Flamingo-esque. Definitely not Beatle-esque. Thanks for digging this one up, Megan.