Saturday, 10 May 2014

The rare "I Feel Fine" music video

To my delight, the animated "I Feel Fine" video includes Superman.
Film-maker and artist Stephen Verona first met John Lennon in a London nightclub in 1966, leading to a collaboration which resulted in a 'music video'. Verona proposed that he should produce a film for one of the Beatles' songs and John sent him an untitled recording of 'I Feel Fine', which Verona initially assumed to be called 'She Said So', obviously not familiar with the 1964 Beatles song. Verona produced a series of more than 200 drawings and, during a visit by John to New York, the pair spent a night discussing the project and hand-colouring the drawings. It is unknown who coloured which drawing, but my guess is that Lennon colourised the image of Superman (see earlier post). A cartoon Superman also featured in the Magical Mystery Tour booklet in 1967.




The finished film was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, collecting awards at the San Francisco, Atlanta and Chicago film festivals, as well as the CINE Golden Eagle.

Verona subsequently produced many music videos (see his 1967 Lovin' Spoonful video here), was nominated for an Academy Award for 'The Rehearsal' (1972 Best Short Subject, Live Action Film) and went into feature-length productions, including 'The Lords Of Flatbush', 1974, with Sylvester Stallone in his first leading role.

It's curious that Lennon thought I Feel Fine was best suited for Verona's treatment, because by 1966 it was an oldie. However, "I Feel Fine" was released on an album for the first time in the UK in December 1966, when it appeared on the "Oldies But Goldies" collection, perhaps that's what Lennon had in mind? Giving the song a more contemporary looking promotional film? It also seems that the acetate Lennon provided Verona with was a mix for the U.S. market, prepared by George Martin. It features Martin's attempt to emulate the Capitol sound, as Dave Dexter would have remixed it.

3 comments:

Whitcomb said...

That's a pretty risqué video for the mid-60s. You have female nudity through much of the film, phallic imagery and two gay guys looking dreamily at each other near the end.

I'm a little confused by the commentary, though, that George Martin may have mixed this version of "I Feel Fine" for the U.S. market. I've always been under the impression that Dave Dexter was solely responsible for the Capitol mixes -- of which "I Feel Fine" and "She's A Woman" were probably his worst. I actually love a lot of what Dexter did to the Beatles recordings, but he missed the boat with those two songs. You can barely hear the vocals on those tunes in the fake stereo; they're buried in the back of the speakers.

But was George Martin a co-conspirator?

Leonardo said...

Some mono mixes made in Abbey Road from june 1964 to october 1964 were done specifically for the american market, as Mark Lewisohn confirms in his book. They were Any Time At All, When I Get Home (released on Something New), I'll Be Back (Beatles 65), She's A Woman and I Feel Fine. These songs has unique mixes done with the US public in mind (or what Norman Smith and George Martin thought US public would like). The last two received a lot of echo in the 'made for the USA' mixes because they found that some Beatles records received this effect by Capitol, so they were probably trying to mix in Capitol way (maybe to avoid that their mixes would be changed). But this practice didn't last too long. Soon after that, they stopped preparing unique mixes for Capitol. OK, there are some unique US mixes that were released after 1964, but this happened only because the UK mixes were upgraded mixes that were done after Capitol release the songs.

Leonardo said...

Forgot to mention that the US mono mixes of I Feel Fine and She's A Woman were made in Abbey Road, but the terrible fake stereo mixes of these songs were made by Dave Dexter.