Today the Threetles returned to Twickenham Studios and attempted to carry on Georgeless. It was not a super-productive session; John was gone for much of the day, and when he was there most of his time was spent talking about the future of the band. There was a serious discussion of calling it quits, and in retrospect it’s surprising that they didn’t. The only thing keeping them together, it seems, was a fear of stepping out of the cocoon of the band they’d been in since they were teenagers.

They did also play some music, and for once the list of songs is short enough to easily paste in here:

  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • Otis Sleep On
  • Baby, Come Back
  • Build Me Up Buttercup
  • Dig a Pony
  • Get Back
  • On the Road Again

Only three of those are Beatles songs (this was, as far as I can tell, the first performance of John’s “Dig a Pony”); the rest are covers, each one interesting in its own way.

“Otis Sleep On” is soul singer Arthur Conley’s tribute to the late Otis Redding, which appeared on the B-side of Conley’s own cover of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”:

“Baby, Come Back” was the biggest hit of interracial British rock band the Equals — a highly underrated outfit who are remembered today mostly as the launching pad of singer Eddy Grant (of “Electric Avenue” fame). But this is only one of their many great songs:

“Build Me Up Buttercup” had been a hit for the Foundations, whom Wikipedia describes as “a British soul band, active from 1967 to 1970 … made up of West Indians, White British, and a Sri Lankan.” So there’s kind of a theme here. If you’re my age, you might have first heard this song being played over the end credits of There’s Something About Mary in 1998:

And finally, “On the Road Again” was a song by Canned Heat, of whom The Beatles seem to have been fans; several of their songs pop up at various times during the Twickenham sessions. Their brand of psychedelic blues sounds a bit dated today, but has a hypnotic pull that can sneak up on you if you let it:

Meanwhile, this was also the day that the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album was released in the U.S. As you are no doubt aware, only one side of the album contained Beatles songs, and only four of those were new, of which two were minor but worthwhile (“Hey Bulldog” and “It’s All Too Much”), one was completely forgettable (“All Together Now”), and one was “Only a Northern Song” — which is its own weird thing completely.

The B-side of the album was made up of orchestral pieces composed by George Martin, which some people quite like, and some find “twee and inconsequential” (as one review put it). Beatles fans nonetheless had to have it, and the resulting sales gave Martin the biggest payday of his career. Remember that, despite his importance to The Beatles’ career, he was basically a hired hand and rarely got to share in the wealth he helped to create. So if you shelled out $3.99 or whatever it was for the Yellow Submarine album, you did a good thing; give yourself a pat on the back.

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