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Author Topic: The Summer Of 1960  (Read 10081 times)

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Bobber

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The Summer Of 1960
« on: June 07, 2006, 07:49:32 AM »

I was discussing this little thing in the bootlegforums already, but since not everybody's coming there (a shame, really...), I thought I'd bring it out in the open. The thing is, I was listening to The Beatles home recordings the other day and there were the tapes from Paul McCartney's bedroom (or bathroom, whatever), from April and/or even May 1960. The quality of these recording are pretty bad of course, but in fact, so is the band. Playing these endless instrumental things and other low quality stuff. Still, just three months later, Allan Williams -who might have had a lot to lose at that time, being some kind of agent with connections in Hamburg- decided that they were good enough to go to Hamburg. Rory Storm wasn't available, but other bands were. And he sent The Beatles, who, three months earlier, sounded pretty lousy to my ears. Of course, in Hamburg they had to play long shifts and must have had its results. By the end of the year, back in Liverpool, they were the hottest band in town. But what happened during those summer months, what made them better, in fact so good to send them to Hamburg? All in all, I think 1960 was a very important year in terms of their development. Again, by the end of 1960 they were Liverpools greatest band. Unbelievable when you listen to they tapes from April/May. What are your thoughts on this?
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Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2006, 08:04:15 AM »

We were at our best when we were playing in the dance halls of Liverpool and Hamburg.  The world never saw that.
- John Lennon
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Kevin

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2006, 10:02:57 AM »

^Now that's what I call a topic. What does Mr W say in his book? (my copy is in a box on the other side of the planet).
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Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2006, 10:46:26 AM »

Allan Williams describes that he wanted to give The Beatles a chance, even though they were still looking for a drummer. A couple of days before they leave for Hamburg in August 1960, he is watching the band and Gerry and the Pacemakers somewhere in the neighbourhood, together with Bob Wooler. Gerry has a smooth and perfect show, but The Beatles seem to electrocute the audience, even when they're off stage.
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The End

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2006, 11:15:55 AM »

Wasn't it Derry (of Derry and The Seniors) who said to Allan Williams "don't send that bum group or you'll spoil it for all of us"?!

Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2006, 11:25:43 AM »

Quote from: The_End
Wasn't it Derry (of Derry and The Seniors) who said to Allan Williams "don't send that bum group or you'll spoil it for all of us"?!

True. It could've been Howie Casey, who was in Derry's group by then. He played in Wings in the seventies, playing saxophone or trumpet during the Wings Over America tour for instance.
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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2006, 10:05:47 PM »

They had a certain spark, and that's all there is to it.
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pc31

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2006, 10:44:08 AM »

Quote from: Bobber

True. It could've been Howie Casey, who was in Derry's group by then. He played in Wings in the seventies, playing saxophone or trumpet during the Wings Over America tour for instance.
he played the sax on listen to what the mansays.....i agree cor...they did suck but they got better...and better....

Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2006, 08:11:17 AM »

Quote from: pc31
they did suck but they got better...and better....

What strikes me most is the speed with which that happened. According to Mark Lewisohn they were absolutely the greatest on the Merseyside by the end of 1960. Sure, Hamburg must have made them better and better during the fall of 1960. But then again, they only had a drummer since August. Somehow they made a tremendous development in a couple of months... So yeah, 1960 is without a doubt the most important year in the development of their sound.
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The End

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2006, 11:33:34 AM »

It's weird that the Decca auditions don't really do anything to showcase this talent - in my opinion anyway!

George seemed to have the best voice that day - John's kept going missing (Money) and Paul seemed to be taking on the role of a 50's crooner (Like Dreamers Do).

George had a pretty good share of the lead vocal duties that day as well!

Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2006, 11:44:59 AM »

That's true. Although it's a year later, they hardly sound energetic at all. A bit tame. Of course, New Years Day is a day when probably nobody is good, but I can hardly hear that they fully aware of the big chance they had on their hands with this audition. They did not know what we know now. I can't blame Decca for putting them down on this audition. Mike Smith from Decca, who had been in The Cavern (or another venue up north), knew the immense popularity of The Beatles on the Merseyside, but obviously Decca had no idea about that or neglected it. They must have been bloody nervous for the Decca audition and though they play everything alright, it certainly lacks some passion.
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Loco Mo

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2006, 09:05:02 PM »

This sudden development of the Beatles seems to parallel their later sudden development at the time of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper.  I often heard people asking how they came so far in such a short period of time.  So much about the Beatles is absolutely mystifying.  They were a phenomenon which seems to defy the usual analytic purview.
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Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2006, 08:56:12 AM »

^That's true. On the other hand, one can see a development that started with Rubber Soul and we know the sources: people and writers like Bob Dylan that got the Beatles wanted to write more in depth songs. But they were on a riding train by that time while in 1960, in fact, that had to get the train running for a start. And once a train is running, it's probably easier to keep it going. They might have learned a lot in the long forgotten tour of Scotland in May 1960, with Johnny Gentle. They really might have got the idea of how to run a show and how to get to girls crazy, although they were just a backing group at that time.
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Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2006, 09:02:45 AM »

 
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Chazz Avery

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2006, 04:42:05 PM »

I think these recordings illustrate how quickly The Beatles' playing improved that year.

Most of the rambling instrumentals come from April on the "Astrid Kirchherr tape" and, indeed, are pretty bad. However, they sound more like exercises than actual attempts to play concise songs. Because Stu's playing is SO bad, I often wonder if this wasn't recorded earlier than April.

In May they went on the Johnny Gentle Tour. This seems to have honed their abilities a bit which is evident on the more concise songs heard on the "Hans Walter-Braun tape" from July 1960. Sure, Stu's still plodding along but John, Paul and George have tightened up considerably.

And, within a year, they would record an album with Tony Sheridan. Not a bad pace.
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Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2006, 07:38:58 AM »

It's funny how you make such a time difference between the Kirchherr and Braun tapes. The quality of what you call the Kirchherr is indeed that bad that it made me wondering how they could improve so much within a year. Dating the tapes earlier than April 1960 would make it a bit more understandable, for then there's more time available. Stu really sounds like he's looking for the right notes to play, so yeah, it could in fact be a very early recording, when Stu had just joined the band.
Oh, by the way Chazz, did you get my picture of the Johnny Gentle Tour through Scotland, with someone else other than a Beatle in the background?
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Chazz Avery

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2006, 10:57:36 AM »

Quote from: Bobber
It's funny how you make such a time difference between the Kirchherr and Braun tapes.

 
That is based primarily on info presented by John Winn and examined with my own ears. There is difference in ambience and the guitars are louder which is like the result of Paul's ne Rosetti 7 guitar purchased on June 30. While researching the "Savage" era it seemed evident that this fita the timeframe.

Quote from: Bobber
The quality of what you call the Kirchherr [tape]...


The "Astrid Kirchherr tape" was a tape given by Stu to Astrid and, obviously, was at least a second generation compilation copy. Astrid returned the tape to George in 1994.

At some point (probably 1960-61), another second generation compilation tape copy containing more polished tracks was given to The Beatles' German friend, Hans-Walter "Icke" Braun.

Sometime in the 1960s, German musician Frank Dostal obtained probably third generation copies of both the Kirchherr and Braun tapes. He played an unadulterated excerpt of the Braun tape on German TV in 1967. In the 1970s, he had a studio combine both tapes onto a single, fourth generation reel.

At that point, the recordings were processed with EQ and the reverb which is probably what we hear on the recordings today.

Frank Dostal has confirmed to me that it is indeed his compilation which circulates but expressly stated that it was NOT him who circulated it.

There appears to be two copies of the Dostal which are circulating. One copy (commonly found on "Wildcat") is slightly better quality than the other (selections of which are found on "The Braun-Kirchherr Tapes"). Both seem to have slight differences in the intro and outro edits. And the second copy features a complete "Well Darling".

Strangely, four songs found on the Braun tape also circulate from what appears to be a different lower generation lineage then the Dostal tape. This copy is better quality with less reverb.

The original recorder used to make these recordings belonged to Charles Hodgson. In 1994, his brother Reginold found a reel given to Charles by Paul in 1960 when the recorder was returned. This reel features a compilation from both the Kirchherr and Braun tapes as well as additional (and currently unavailable) songs including "When I'm 64", "Ask Me Why" and "Winston's Walk". This was probably a second generation copy taken from the master tapes and not copied from the Kirchherr-Braun tapes. Hodgson returned the tape to Paul in 1994. Perhaps the four songs noted above source back to the Hodgson tape.

Also, according to reports, in 1969, John gave a copy of these recordings to a German friend to have an acetate made. The acetate, containing three songs, never made it back to John. Perhaps the four songs can be traced to this event.

It would seem that the tracks found on "Anthology 1" would be sourced from the Kirchherr and Hodgson tapes however, the "Anthology" versions also feature the reverb found on the bootlegs.

Quote from: Bobber
...is indeed that bad that it made me wondering how they could improve so much within a year. Dating the tapes earlier than April 1960 would make it a bit more understandable, for then there's more time available. Stu really sounds like he's looking for the right notes to play, so yeah, it could in fact be a very early recording, when Stu had just joined the band.


I'm VERY inclined to think it's earlier than April. But it's no earlier than January, when Stu joined

Quote from: Bobber
Oh, by the way Chazz, did you get my picture of the Johnny Gentle Tour through Scotland, with someone else other than a Beatle in the background?


Yep, I sure did but I jsut looked and I'll be darned if I can find it. I thought I archived it but it's not where I thought it was. And I didn't get to examine it closely. Sometimes I stick things in odd places. Hopefully, I'll come across it at sometime. I have contact with Johnny Gentle's son and wanted to ask him about it.

Chazz
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Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2006, 11:05:34 AM »

This is the picture:

, to be found on Johnny Gentle's website: http://www.johnnygentle.com. It says 'Scotland Tour', but it does not look like any of the Beatles in the background there. I'm not sure if Johnny did another Scotland tour after the one in May 1960.
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Kevin

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2006, 11:21:46 AM »

I so wish I could contribute to this.
Am I right in that crucial question is why did Williams send what everyone else thought was a sh*t band to Hamburg? (for surely the regular gigging is a key component to their improvement)
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Bobber

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Re: The Summer Of 1960
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2006, 03:11:59 PM »

Quote from: kevin_b
I so wish I could contribute to this.
Am I right in that crucial question is why did Williams send what everyone else thought was a sh*t band to Hamburg? (for surely the regular gigging is a key component to their improvement)

Well, in fact that's the question. And judging from what I thought was their tapes from April/May 1960, it was quite a lousy band. Their first gigs in Hamburg might have been pretty bad too, though. But still Alan Williams they were good enough to go and play in Hamburg.
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