by Justin Crockett
You likely are well aware that The Beatles broke up sometime around 1970, after Ringo was caught trying to add drum tracks to already-completed songs. This actually wasn’t the first time – he had been drumming since the early 1960’s, and if not for an elaborate sting operation between joint task forces from the FBI and Scotland Yard, he very well could have been hitting the skins for decades longer.
Fast forward to 1974. John Lennon was producing an album for Harry Nilsson. This took place during his infamous “Lost Weekend”, separated from his wailing banshee of a wife, and trying to voluntarily deviate his septum with cocaine.
Who should then enter the recording studio but Paul and Linda McCartney, and then Stevie Wonder, followed by a smattering of backup musicians. Lennon quickly offered them a snort, because that’s what you do with an old bandmate and a blind genius. It appears they decided to participate, because they then proceeded to put some of the most disappointingly coke-ravaged music to tape. To say it sounds like cats fucking makes it appear sexier than it is. So let’s describe it more as “a fist entering a colon, but also cats fucking is on the stereo”.
Lennon and McCartney likely didn’t know this would be the first and last time they would play music in the same room between the Beatles’ breakup and Lennon’s murder. If they had, they might have thought less about little problems with the headphones and microphones, and a little more about playing through a song, any song. I mean, look at the track listing of this audio abortion:
- “A Toot and a Snore” 0:27
- “Bluesy Jam” 2:33
- “Studio Talk” 2:40
- “Lucille” 5:59
- “Nightmares” 2:38
- Actually the band is playing “Sleep Walk“, the 1959 Santo & Johnny instrumental hit. Per author Kristofer Engelhardt in “The Beatles Deeper Undercover” p.234 “The historic evening ended with a jam of “Lucille”, “Sleepwalk” (sic), “Stand By Me”, “Cupid”, “Chain Gang”, “Take This Hammer” ” (c)2010
- “Stand By Me” – 2:18
- Mostly Lennon complaining about the sound in his headphones and reminiscing about how it was better half an hour ago.
- “Stand By Me” 3:41
- Lennon complains about the sound again, saying that it was better two hours ago.
- “Stand By Me” 6:04
- Because of Lennon’s complaints, the studio has changed the microphone levels on the recording itself (rather than the performers’ headphones), and most of the lead vocals can no longer be heard.
- Medley 3:10
Other than the fact that the name should probably have been changed to “Lennon Complaining”, the other thing we take away from this mangled highway wreck of a session is that when you decide to invite the boys over for some snorty jams, have a proper engineer in the booth.
That, and as Lennon remarked over and over, things sounded way better a long time ago.