Monday, 15 July 2019

The Beatles: First steps

Logo of playlist
A few days ago, a playlist was posted on the official Beatles channel on YouTube, under the name "first steps". It consisted of videos with the still image displayed above, and the songs were taken from the Polydor sessions with Tony Sheridan, plus the two songs from the first single on EMI, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You".
The ten songs on the playlist are:

Love Me Do
Let's Dance
P.S. I Love You
What'd I Say
Ya Ya
Why?
Cry For A Shadow
Sweet Georgia Brown
Ruby Baby
If You Love Me Baby (aka Take Out Some Insurance On Me Baby)

Only the bold titles are tracks actually featuring The Beatles. The featured Polydor tracks are the same eight tracks as released on the vintage "This Is The... The Savage Young Beatles" 10" disc. (shown below in a modern edition without the double The's.)


It seems the songs on the playlist were uploaded in 2014, and provided to YouTube by Daredo. According to Daredo's website, digedo, a subsidiary of daredo GmbH, is one of the leading independent digital music distribution companies in Europe. They deal, among other things, in monetizing music videos at all the important video portals like YouTube, Dailymotion, Vevo, Muzu and MyVideo.

The problem with this playlist, as far as the Polydor session songs concerns, is that it contains a number of songs which aren't The Beatles at all, it's Tony Sheridan with a different backing band.

The songs recorded for Polydor actually featuring the Beatles were:
My Bonnie
The Saints
Cry for a Shadow
Why (Can't You Love Me Again)
Nobody's Child
Ain't She Sweet
If You Love Me, Baby (aka Take Out Some Insurance on Me, Baby)
Sweet Georgia Brown

Just four of those songs are featured in this playlist. I don't know what's happening here. Have The Beatles finally acknowledged their Polydor past? Is someone not very historically minded put in charge of their YouTube account? Or is this an automatically generated playlist by YouTube? One thing is for sure, this is going to confuse fans.

Link to YouTube Playlist

The list is also featured on the Narrma website, who have added these "sleeve notes", trying to put the songs into context:

First night at the Indra Club, August 1960.

The Beatles First Steps Playlist with Tony Sheridan

Allan Williams, The Beatles‘ unofficial manager, arranged a residency for them in Hamburg, but lacking a full-time drummer they auditioned and hired Pete Best in mid-August 1960. The band left four days later, contracted to club owner Bruno Koschmider for what would be a 3​1⁄2-month residency.

Nightclub on the Reeperbahn in St Pauli – the red-light district of Hamburg where the The Beatles performed extensively from 1960 to 1962.

Koschmider had converted a couple of strip clubs in the district into music venues, and he initially placed The Beatles at the Indra Club. After closing Indra due to noise complaints, he moved them to the Kaiserkeller in October. When he learned they had been performing at the rival Top Ten Club in breach of their contract, he gave the band one month’s termination notice, and reported the underage George Harrison, who had obtained permission to stay in Hamburg by lying to the German authorities about his age. The authorities arranged for Harrison’s deportation in late November. One week later, Koschmider had Paul McCartney and Pete Best arrested for arson after they set fire to a condom in a concrete corridor; the authorities deported them. John Lennon returned to Liverpool in early December, while Stuart Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg until late February with his German fiancée Astrid Kirchherr, who took the first semi-professional photos of The Beatles.

During the next two years, The Beatles were resident for periods in Hamburg, where they used Preludin both recreationally and to maintain their energy through all-night performances. In 1961, during their second Hamburg engagement, Kirchherr cut Sutcliffe’s hair in the “exi” (existentialist) style, later adopted by the other Beatles. When Sutcliffe decided to leave the band early that year and resume his art studies in Germany, McCartney took up the bass.

Producer Bert Kaempfert contracted what was now a four-piece group until June 1962, and he used them as Tony Sheridan’s backing band on a series of recordings for Polydor Records. As part of the sessions, The Beatles were signed to Polydor for one year. Credited to “Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers“, the single “My Bonnie”, recorded in June 1961 and released four months later, reached number 32 on the Musikmarkt chart.

After The Beatles completed their second Hamburg residency, they enjoyed increasing popularity in Liverpool with the growing Merseybeat movement. However, they were also growing tired of the monotony of numerous appearances at the same clubs night after night. In November 1961, during one of the group’s frequent performances at The Cavern Club, they encountered Brian Epstein, a local record-store owner and music columnist. He later recalled: “I immediately liked what I heard. They were fresh, and they were honest, and they had what I thought was a sort of presence … [a] star quality.”

Epstein courted the band over the next couple of months, and they appointed him as their manager in January 1962. Throughout early and mid-1962, Epstein sought to free The Beatles from their contractual obligations to Bert Kaempfert Productions. He eventually negotiated a one-month-early release from their contract in exchange for one last recording session in Hamburg.

Epstein began negotiations with record labels for a recording contract. In order to secure a UK record contract, Epstein negotiated an early end to the band’s contract with Polydor, in exchange for more recordings backing Tony Sheridan. After a New Year’s Day audition, Decca Records rejected the band with the comment “Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein.” However, three months later, producer George Martin signed The Beatles to EMI’s Parlophone label.

So, the "sleeve notes" aren't so bad, but they should have used the correct songs.

3 comments:

Bazilnerk said...

Odd that this is on the official channel. Someone's ballsed up somewhere as this is actually a European PD release from 2012 https://www.deezer.com/en/album/6150698 for instance. The logo is also wrong because they can't use the trademark. Youtube can also be used as a streaming service by labels and this is just one of those cases. How it ended up on an official page is anyone's guess.

George Armstrong said...

"The Beatles: First Steps" and "The Beatles - And So It Begins" have been alternating on the official Beatles You Tube channel for a few weeks now. "The Beatles - And So It Begins" is the one currently listed. Actually it's listed twice - as a 13 track version and also as a 14 track version. The 14th 'extra' track is listed as "Please Please Me" but it plays as "Love Me Do". I can't understand how these playlists with predominately Tony Sheridan material make it onto the Beatles official channel. Meanwhile, the "On Air - Live at the BBC, Volume 2" album has disappeared from the official channel.

Tony said...

It certainly has generated confusion. I had an exchange with someone in the Youtube comments who believed, understandably, that the Beatles were on all the tracks, and if not, then they must have been involved in producing. Definitely should not be up on the official channel