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Author Topic: Carnival of Light finally to be released?  (Read 6040 times)

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Penny Lane

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Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« on: November 16, 2008, 07:01:45 AM »

I don't know if anyone else has heard this story yet, but here ya go:

Forty years on, McCartney wants the world to hear 'lost' Beatles epic
George Harrison said it was too avant-garde. Now Sir Paul says the time has come to release 1967's 'Carnival of Light'

    * Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
    * guardian.co.uk, Sunday November 16 2008 00.01 GMT
    * The Observer, Sunday November 16 2008
    * Article history


For Beatles fans across the world it has gained near mythical status. The 14-minute improvised track called 'Carnival of Light' was recorded in 1967 and played just once in public. It was never released because three of the Fab Four thought it too adventurous.

The track, a jumble of shrieks and psychedelic effects, is said to be as far from the melodic ballads that made Sir Paul McCartney famous as it is possible to imagine. But now McCartney has said that the public will have the chance to judge for themselves.

'It does exist,' McCartney says on a BBC Radio 4 arts programme to be broadcast this week. Talking to John Wilson, the presenter of Front Row, the former Beatle confirms that he still has a master tape of the work and says he suspects that 'the time has come for it to get its moment'.

'I like it because it's the Beatles free, going off piste,' he adds.

In the 40 years since 'Carnival of Light' was recorded by McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon in the Abbey Road studios in London, its collection of disparate rhythms has become a kind of holy grail for Beatles obsessives. The track was put together on 5 January 1967, in between working on the vocals for the song 'Penny Lane'.

Once released it should offer proof that the Fab Four, and McCartney in particular, were much more avant-garde in their tastes than many gave them credit for. According to the few who heard the track on the one occasion the recording was played publicly, at a London music festival in 1967, it features the sound of gargled water and strangled shouts from Lennon which vie with church organs and distorted guitar.

'We were set up in the studio and would just go in every day and record,' McCartney tells Wilson. 'I said to the guys, this is a bit indulgent but would you mind giving me 10 minutes? I've been asked to do this thing. All I want you to do is just wander round all of the stuff and bang it, shout, play it. It doesn't need to make any sense. Hit a drum, wander to the piano, hit a few notes ... and then we put a bit of echo on it. It's very free.'

McCartney had been commissioned to create a piece for an electronic music festival at the Roundhouse Theatre in north London by his friend Barry Miles. The event, the Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, was organised by International Times, an underground newspaper. Many in the audience had no idea they were listening to a new Beatles track. Other performers included Delia Derbyshire whose work at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop included jointly creating the theme for Doctor Who.

McCartney, who this month releases his third experimental album of new work under the alias the Fireman, regards 'Carnival of Light' as evidence of how musically adventurous he has always been. For the three other Beatles the track was just an oddity. George Harrison dismissed it as too weird. But McCartney is hopeful it can now be released with the agreement of the group's estate.

'It will help reaffirm McCartney's claim to have been the most musically adventurous of all the Beatles,' said Wilson this weekend. 'He told me he would love to release the track. All he needs now is the blessing of Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and George Harrison's widow Olivia.'

The piece was inspired, McCartney says, by the works of composers John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. In his book Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, author Mark Lewisohn - who was played the track in 1987 - describes 'distorted, hypnotic drum and organ sounds, a distorted lead guitar, the sound of a church organ, various effects (water gargling was one) and, perhaps most intimidating of all, Lennon and McCartney screaming and bawling random phrases including "Are you all right?" and '"Barcelona!".'

Beatles fans came close to hearing 'Carnival Of Light' in 1996 when it was considered for inclusion in the exhaustive Anthology compilation. 'We were listening to everything we'd every recorded,' McCartney says. 'I said it would be great to put this on because it would show we were working with really avant-garde stuff ... But it was vetoed. The guys didn't like the idea, like "this is rubbish".'

McCartney revealed that George Harrison disparaged sonic experimentation as 'avant-garde a clue'.

Sir George Martin, the Beatles producer who oversaw the track, has described it as 'one of those weird things'. 'It was a kind of uncomposed, free-for-all melange of sound that went on. It was not considered worthy of issuing as a normal piece of Beatles music at the time and was put away.'

Coincidentally, McCartney played some of his Fireman compositions at the reopened Roundhouse venue last year during the Electric Proms. 'With the Fireman you're in disguise,' he told Observer Music Monthly. His pseudonym may have been taken from the lyric of 'Penny Lane' where a fireman 'rushes in from the pouring rain' and could also be a nod to his father, Jim McCartney, a firewatcher on the Liverpool docks in the Second World War.

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Geoff

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2008, 01:54:09 PM »

That's Paul doing a bit of lobbying, of course. Maybe he could help the cause a little by letting a copy of "Carnival" slip out, possibly to Youtube? Just saying....


For a laugh, here's The Telegraph's version of the same story, hopelessly bungled.


Sir Paul McCartney to release Beatles' 'lost track'
By Ben Leach
Last Updated: 8:46AM GMT 16 Nov 2008


The improvised recording was made in 1967 and was played just once in public. But it was never released because three of the Fab Four thought it was too adventurous.

It is said to be composed of a series of shrieks and psychedelic sounds - far away from the melodious recordings with which the Beatles are associated.

But speaking on a BBC Radio 4 arts programme to be broadcast this week McCartney said that the public would get a chance to listen to the track.

"It does exist," McCartney told John Wilson, the presenter of Front Row.

He added that he still has a master tape of the recording and suspects that "the time has come for it to get its moment".

"I like it because it's the Beatles free, going off piste," he added.

The track was put together on 5 January 1967, in between working on the vocals for the song Penny Lane.

Since it was recorded 40 years ago the track has achieved almost mythical status for Beatles fans.

It is reported to include the sounds of gargled water and strangled shouts from John Lennon which clash with church organs and distorted guitar.

"It will help reaffirm McCartney's claim to have been the most musically adventurous of all the Beatles," said Mr Wilson.

"He told me he would love to release the track. All he needs now is the blessing of Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and George Harrison's widow Olivia."
 

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Geoff

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2008, 05:29:08 PM »

... and AP's headline is "McCartney Hopes to Release Funky Beatles Track."

George Clinton funky? Or Sly Stone?
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BlueMeanie

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2008, 05:32:43 PM »

My bet is that Olivia will veto it.
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Geoff

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2008, 05:49:54 PM »

Quote from: 483
My bet is that Olivia will veto it.

Wouldn't be surprised. On the other hand, she may be less dead set against it than George was and open to persuasion. Ringo's and Yoko's opinions could make a difference, and so could the tenor of Paul's public lobbying.  But it doesn't sound like much of a track, and like the unissued takes of "Helter Skelter," I suspect that interest in it will evaporate as soon as it's heard.  :)
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BlueMeanie

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2008, 05:59:24 PM »

I suspect that if it were ever to be released it would be after any remastered back catalogue was issued, so as not to damage potential sales.

Let's face it, Macca really only wants it out for his own reputation; so that people can see that he was into Avante Garde long before John. I doubt he's expecting anyone to actually like it. If he were to get permission maybe he should put it on an EP including the original version, plus a few remixes by different producers.

The 27 min Helter Skelter is by all accounts a real dirge, so I doubt he'd want that out, as it's his song.
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Geoff

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2008, 06:34:52 PM »

Quote from: 483
Let's face it, Macca really only wants it out for his own reputation; so that people can see that he was into Avante Garde long before John.

Yes, and his bringing it up publicly every so often in interviews for shows like Front Row might be seen by the others as an example of the sort of have-to-have-it-my-way wheedling they grew to detest in the late sixties.

Still, I can imagine "Carnival," along with, say, The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl and other unissued Beatles material coming out with a remastered back catalog: it would be an obvious promotional device. That's not to say that I would count on it happening, though, or that putting a lot more leftovers into the public domain would be an unambiguously good thing, apart from what it would do to satisfy curiosity.
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Penny Lane

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2008, 07:07:02 PM »

Here's another article of the story, this time via CNN:  http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Music/11/16/beatles.mccartney.lost.track/index.html

Quote from: 483
Let's face it, Macca really only wants it out for his own reputation; so that people can see that he was into Avante Garde long before John.


I have to say I agree.  I've noticed that Paul has this thing where he likes to talk about how avant garde and experimental he was back in the '60's.  Anyway, I haven't been too crazy about the Beatles', uh, more adventurous musical efforts ("You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" and "Revolution 9") so it might be safe to assume I won't love "Carnival of Light," either.  But I figure it's still worth a listen if it is ever released, seeing as how this is like the mysterious unicorn of Beatles songs.

The funny thing is, when I first heard this story, I thought to myself:  Are there going to be crazed fans listening to this track over and over to find even more "Paul is Dead" clues?  I can just imagine! ;D
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Geoff

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2008, 07:25:41 PM »

Quote from: 1620
I've noticed that Paul has this thing where he likes to talk about how avant garde and experimental he was back in the '60's.

He goes on about it quite a bit in Many Years From Now. As BlueMeanie says, he probably wants credit for being there ahead of John and to break his soft "Paulie" image a little.  

Quote from: 1620
The funny thing is, when I first heard this story, I thought to myself:  Are there going to be crazed fans listening to this track over and over to find even more "Paul is Dead" clues?  I can just imagine! ;D

You're putting ideas into their heads. Good job.  ;D
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Bobber

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2008, 07:56:24 PM »

I'm wondering how this is going to be released? As The Beatles' new single?  ;D
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fendertele

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2008, 08:03:40 PM »

a reckon a b side to one of his Fireman singles.
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Geoff

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2008, 09:06:13 PM »

Quote from: 63
I'm wondering how this is going to be released? As The Beatles' new single?  ;D


How about as a twofer with Two Virgins ?  Maybe they could throw in Electronic Sound as well.  ;D
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Sondra

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2008, 12:19:37 AM »

Quote
Once released it should offer proof that the Fab Four, and McCartney in particular, were much more avant-garde in their tastes than many gave them credit for. According to the few who heard the track on the one occasion the recording was played publicly, at a London music festival in 1967, it features the sound of gargled water and strangled shouts from Lennon which vie with church organs and distorted guitar.

Umm, Revolution No. 9 anyone? Wasn't that proof? Oh yeah, but that was Lennon. Well Paul, you should have fought a bit harder if you really believed in it!
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aspinall_lover

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2008, 02:51:19 AM »

You know................they need to release it.  This "Carnival" song may "BE" the link of the psychedelic stuff that was going on at Abbey Road Studios...........hey..........Pink Floyd, with the "legend" Syd Barrett were just down the hall recording "Piper" at the same time The Boys were doing "Pepper".  This could be very, VERY interesting.  I would LOVE to hear it.
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BlueMeanie

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2008, 07:38:23 AM »

Quote from: 216
Well Paul, you should have fought a bit harder if you really believed in it!

I don't think their was ever any intention to release it at the time. I expect that Paul had even forgotten about it until Anthology came up.
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Bobber

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2008, 08:21:26 AM »

According to Mark Lewisohn, there were recordings of random jamming from June 1967, when they were busy doing nothing after finishing Sgt Pepper and All You Need Is Love. I feel, if Paul has the urge to release Carnival Of Light, then he should and try to release EVERYTHING that has been unreleased so far.
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Geoff

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2008, 11:50:29 AM »

Quote from: 216
Umm, Revolution No. 9 anyone? Wasn't that proof? Oh yeah, but that was Lennon. Well Paul, you should have fought a bit harder if you really believed in it!

I think it was just a casual, throwaway recording at the time it was made, and that Paul only became interested in it again later when he realized he could use it to restore his own "hip" credentials after a solo career full of soft-rock hit singles and the rock press's deification of John as the "cool" Beatle. I see his point, actually, because his popular image is as distorted and oversimplified as John's, but I doubt that a big rolling out of "Carnival Of Light" as Paul McCartney's Lost Avant Garde Masterpiece or some such would do anything but make him look silly.

That said, there is an argument to be made for issuing this along with any other marginally interesting Beatles leftovers that remain: It's forty years after the fact and they may as well put it all out for the record. The trick would be to release it in such a way that no-one's expectations would be raised by what they were about to hear.  :)
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Joe

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2008, 01:48:12 PM »

Quote from: 483

I don't think their was ever any intention to release it at the time. I expect that Paul had even forgotten about it until Anthology came up.


I doubt that. It came to light in 1988 when Mark Lewisohn's Complete Beatles Recording Sessions was published. George Martin and Geoff Emerick spoke about it - Martin had forgotten it was ever recorded.

Some of these news reports are pretty duff. There were two 'Carnival of Light' events, both at the Roundhouse, and the track (recorded as 'Untitled', incidentally) was played a number of times at both. The BBC one (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7732546.stm) is particularly shoddy - I've sent them some corrections.

There's more info here, for anyone who's interested. My hits have already shot up through people searching for Carnival Of Light, which is nice.
http://www.beatlesbible.com/songs/carnival-of-light/

Quote from: 483
The 27 min Helter Skelter is by all accounts a real dirge, so I doubt he'd want that out, as it's his song.


Just out of interest, who has said it's a dirge? I didn't think the 27-minute version had ever been heard outside of Abbey Road.
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Geoff

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2008, 03:13:44 PM »

Quote from: 1509
Some of these news reports are pretty duff.

No kidding: the news reports all seem to be the same original article lightly rewritten, and the only additions are either errors or misleading headlines.
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Ged

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Re: Carnival of Light finally to be released?
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2008, 03:19:01 PM »

Being a long awaited track, it might well sell enough off it's own fame/quality if released but how about it on an EP with Mary Jane, You know my name and Revolution 9.

With a zany cover and booklet of course.
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