I feel a bit sheepish admitting that last weekend I broke down and bought the Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition — mostly because when push comes to shove, I didn’t get it for the music (all of which is available online), or the package (which is beautiful but still needlessly occupies space within the finite volume of my home), but for the liner notes. Especially those concerning the 23 bonus tracks, which occupy 87 minutes spread across two CDs (frankly a bit chintzy, in the scheme of things, but we all live at the mercy of the Beatles Industrial Complex).

To spare others the same dilemma, I’m going to create my own set of liner notes here in the weeks to come. We begin at the beginning, with the version of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” recorded at Trident Studios on February 22, 1969.

This one begins with a take in progress. A pretty raggedy-sounding one. After an off-key bleat of “she’s…” from Lennon, the take is abandoned, and John discusses the state of things with an exasperated George Martin.

JL: Case of half of one or two of the other. What’s it a case of, Mr. Martin?

GM: Take 4 was very good up to the breakdown….

JL: Which was take 4?

GM: It was very good up to the end… (mumbling)

JL: My boys are ready to go!

That last part is also what John says just before making love to the wife. (Rimshot please.) But in this context he is referring to Paul, George, Ringo, and Billy Preston, who have been making an unholy racket late at night in the poorly soundproofed environs of Trident. Apparently some neighbors have been complaining about the noise; from the control room, Glyn Johns pipes up,

Is it possible, without affecting yourselves too much, to turn down a little?

John’s response is surprisingly tame. He does not, as one might expect, shout “We’re the fucking Beatles! No one tells us to turn it down!” Instead he whines, “What are they doing here this time of night?” — in the background, Paul can be heard murmuring something about it being “a lousy district” — then agrees,

Well, we’ll try it once more, very loud. If we don’t get it we’ll try it quiet, like you might do it the other way. OK, the loud one, last go… last chance to be loud.

After an aside about not being able to see properly — “they keep merging,” he says, either without his glasses or (more likely) stoned to the bejeezus — John counts off a new take. This one goes a lot better. At first it is not too dissimilar to the album version, but in the latter parts Preston’s keyboards are a lot more prominent, and at times you can hear what sounds like a kazoo (it’s probably just a heavily distorted guitar). The whooshing white noise, added later using a Moog, is missing — but it gets pretty damn heavy nonetheless.

As the liner notes, um, note:

On the album the song ends abruptly at the point where the tape of the stereo mix was cut, whereas this performance comes to a screeching halt. As the dust settles, someone shouts, “Woo!”

It sounds like Paul to me. That’s a Paul kind of thing to shout.

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