Hittin’ the high spots, feelin’ groovy

After The Beatles played their last ever concert (San Fransisco’s Candlestick Park, Aug 29 1966), they all went their own ways. George flew to India to study all things…erm…Indian. John flew to Spain to partake in Richard Lester’s film “How I Won The War.”

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Ringo stayed at home, playing the pool and getting bored. Meanwhile Paul, the bachelor Beatle was busy visiting all of London’s art galleries and night clubs and popping in other people’s recording sessions. One known instance is “background hollering” on Donovan’s hit single “Mellow Yellow.”

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A more substantial contribution was to a record by the Escorts. The Escorts were a fine group of very young Liverpudlians, who released an excellent half a dozen of singles between 1964 and 1966, none of which had much impact on the charts, presumably because they sounded too much like yesteryear’s recordings in the fast evolving musical climate of the era. Nevertheless, Paul was there to help with what turned out to be their final session. As usual, Paul couldn’t keep his mouth shut, so he effectively acted as an uncredited co-producer. He also played the tambourine on the A side, a cover of the Miracles’ “From Head To Toe.” More importantly, he also reportedly helped with writing the B side, “Night Time.” It’s another soulful number with falsetto vocals, endearing in their near amateurishness. Of course Paul did not receive a credit for his writing help – but the lyrics do seem to reflect his current life style: “First we go to a movie, then we’ll hit the high spots, feelin’ groovy. That’s why I only operate (yeah) at night time!” The record was a total flop and the Escorts soon disbanded, their records becoming valued collector’s items. Thankfully a CD “From The Blue Angel” on Edsel records collects together all of their recorded output. Higly recommended for all friends of bands like the Swinging Blue Jeans.

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A much more important Macca contribution was penning the music to “The Family Way”, a film by the Boulting brothers. (Some may feel that this is no mere “contribution”, but rather Macca’s first “solo recordings”. Since he doesn’t appear on the recordings and they weren’t even released under his name, I’ve chosen to include them here.) Paul’s initial contribution was to write a single theme (lated dubbed “Theme From Family Way”) and suggest George Martin to arrange it for a brass band. (Brass bands were very much loved in Liverpool and Northern England in general – Paul’s grandfather had played in one.) Martin correctly realised that he couldn’t do a whole film score with just one theme so he went back to ask Paul for something more, interrupting a Lennon/McCartney writing session. A mildly irritated Macca excused his song writing partner, noodled the piano for a few minutes and gave Martin a waltz theme: “Something like that, you mean?” The theme was later titled “Love In The Open Air” and went on to win an Ivor Novello award for the best soundtrack music of the year! George Martin arranged and recorded several variations of these two themes (“brass band”, “waltz”, “rock”, “wedding march”, “go-go” etc.) and a soundtrack LP was released featuring 13 (untitled) variations. The recordings are usually credited to the George Martin Orchestra, though they were actually performed by Neville Marriner’s string quartet and a brass band later dubbed “the Tudor Minstrels” when a single from the LP was released. (To add to confusion, Martin later rerecorded the themes for a single released under his own way.) In any case the album is short but sweet, a true testament to Paul’s ability to come up with memorable melodies and to George Martin’s arrangement and conducting skills. As such it is a neglected and overlooked gem – though this may be partially caused by it’s limited availability. What looks like an official CD release (on Disques XXI – 21 Records) does not sound like one: large chunks of it are copied off a scratchy vinyl and the recording switches back and forth between mono and stereo. On the plus side, it adds guitarist Carl Aubut’s 1995 renditions as well as Macca approved 1999 recordings byFlûte Enchantée Quartet. Highly recommended despite it’s short comings (and once more credited to “the George Martin Orchestra!”)

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Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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