Another Hard Day’s Night

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The Beatles’ third LP “A Hard Day’s Night” was famously their first one to comprise entirely of original material – and the only one where all the songs were by Lennon/McCartney. It’s also one that is curiously dominated by Lennon. True, most of the songs were co-efforts, mostly written in a Parisian hotel room just before the group took over the USA. But eventually only three numbers (“Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Things We Said Today” and “And I Love Her”) can be considered Paul’s babies. The rest are largely John’s. But looking at the material Paul was giving away during the first half of 1964 it becomes obvious the LP could have been entirely different. Now let’s have a closer look.

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Peter And Gordon (Asher and Waller, respectively) were an Everly Brothers inspired harmony duo from London. Columbia Records were supposedly unaware that Peter’s sister was none other than Jane Asher, Paul McCartney’s long time girl friend. If true, it must have been a pleasant surprise when Peter brought in two Lennon/McCartney exclusives for their debut session. The first of these, “A World Without Love”, was a pleasant mid tempo number with lyrics too corny for The Beatles to consider. The line “Please lock me away” would always crack them up. Apparently Billy J Kramer felt the same way and rejected the number. Peter and Gordon had no such reservations and were rewarded with a number one single on both sides of the Atlantic. Not bad for a debut, huh?

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The other number, “Nobody I Know” wasn’t quite in the same league. Billy J Kramer would probably have tucked it on a B side, but Peter and Gordon – and producer Norman Newell – were wise to save it for the follow up. Aided by some fine twelve string acoustic guitarand riding on the trails of a chart topper it made # 10 in the UK and #12 in the US. Paul was to provide the duo two more exclusives in the future, all of these can be easily found on any number of compilations, such as “The Ultimate Peter & Gordon” on EMI.

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“One And One Is Two” was a fast rocker, not unlike “Hold Me Tight”, written in that Parisian hotel room and intended fror Billy J Kramer (John and Paul’s demo circulates among collectors). According to author Michael Braun who was there (unlike so many “experts”) John quipped “Billy J’s finished after that!” Once again Kramer seems to have agreed, passing the song over to the Fourmost (now was there a pecking order or what?). They could not make the song to work either, even with Paul sitting in on bass, so it was left for the Strangers with Mike Shannon to take the song with them into obscurity. Little is known of the group (by me, at least!) For years they were rumoured to be a South African group but Paul has since described them as “mates from Liverpool.” Their enthusiastic, energetic and somewhat amateurish version can best be found on a compilation CD “Lennon & McCartney Songbook vol. 2” on Castle Records. Highly recommended listening for anyone interested in obscure and more familiar cover versions.

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One song that Billy J Kramer agreed to record was “From A Window”. This was a typically melodic piece of Macca pop, although perhaps somewhat lacking in the hook department which may explain why the single only made #10 in the UK. Coming after a number one this was considerd a disappoinment. In the USA the song was covered by Chad and Jeremy with the result that neither version was a hit. The times they were a changing and Kramer’s next record, the ironically titled “It’s Gotta Last Forever” failed to chart at all nd a cover of Burt Bacharac’s ” Trains And Boats And Planes” would become his last cgart entry, # 12 in the UK. All of Billy’s hits are easily available, for instance on “Billy J Kramer With The Dakotas At Abbey Road 1963-1966” on EMI. And oh, Paul was in the studio for “From A Window”, which was handy when Billy couldn’t reach the final high note, Paul stepped in and sang it. It’s on the record. Listen!

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Decca Records must have surely been kicking themselves by this time. In January 1962 they had rejected the world’s greatest pop goup, the world’s greatest song writing duo and three hit songs, all at the same time. Beat that! To compensate this accident they would sign up nearly every act int he land, hoping to find another Beatles. And in early 1964 they had on of their groups record the last of Lennon/McCartney songs from that infamous 1962 demo tape. The group were the Applejacks, the sole presenters of “the Solihull Sound” (yeah, nice try!) who’d had a #7 hit with “Tell Me When.” (Unusually their bass player was femaleFor the follow up Decca dug out the positively old fashioned sounding “Like Dreamers Do”. A jarring piano riff was added but the record sounded too much like yesteryear’s Gerry & the Pacemakers to go past #20 in the UK charts. The Applejacks would have one more hit record (“Three Little Words, #23) before disapearing. A further Lennon/McCartney cover of “Baby’s In Black” had no Beatles approval, but Kinks collectors cherish the group’s 1965 version of “I Go To Sleep”, probably the best song “Ray Davies gave away” – but that’s another blog!

“Like Dreamers Do” can be found on the “Lennon & McCartney Song Book Vol. 2” CD mentioned above. All of the Applejacks recorded work can be found on a Beat Merchants CD “Everybody Fall Down”, if you’re mad enough to hunt it down. It’s not worth it, trust me;) And I’m not sure it’s an official release anyway (doesn’t look like one.)

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Of all the songs Paul gave away at this time, the most intriguing one is “It’s for You”. An extremely ambitious record for it’s time, being a jazzy waltz, it rather amazingly made #7 in the UK charts in the capable hands of Cilla Black. I’d be tempted to attribute this success to the musical climate of the sixties, but of course coming after two consecutive number ones (the big ballads “Anyone Who Had A Heart” and “You’re My World”) helped enormously. That’s not to take anything away from Cilla who does her usual high quality job, with Paul playing the piano. But I wonder what the “Hard Day’s Night” era Beatles would have made of this.

“It’s For You” is available on any number of Cilla compilations – like the one pictured below. But hey Paul, how about a solo version at long last?

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Published in: on June 28, 2007 at 1:56 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have a lot of time for “It’s For You” – I actually had two versions before I heard the Cilla Black original, a quite radical re-working by Three Dog Night plus a more faithful rendition by Nashville pop supremos Swan Dive. It is quite a radical song for its era, and a sensitive lyric (presumably Macca) which seems to take a woman’s viewpoint. Definitely a hidden treasure of the Beatles years

  2. i have a record of the beetles it a hard days night its the lp can you tell me what it could be worth thanks kev


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