Today Zapple Records — the Apple subsidiary set up to release records deemed too strange for the main label — released its first (and only) two albums.

One was George’s Electronic Sound, which had been inspired by the Moog synthesizer demo he got from Bernie Krause back in November 68. In fact the whole second side of the album is that very demo, recorded without Krause’s knowledge and released without his consent, leading to bad feelings and legal wrangling.

The other was John and Yoko’s Unfinished Music #2: Life with the Lions, a collection of their recent experiments, provocations, and regurgitations:

And here we run straight into the question of how much time to spend on things that are a) not exactly The Beatles and b) absolute twaddle. The answer: None more time.

What interests me a little more is that the third release on Zapple was supposed to be a spoken word album by none other than Richard Brautigan. If that name is not familiar to you, that’s unfortunate, but this is probably not the place to get into it. You might check out, or maybe you’re better off just listening to the album (see below).

It’s not clear exactly how Brautigan came to be handed a fistful of Apple money to make a record. It seems to be a case of the sheer gravitational pull of all that Beatle cachet and cash, which also attracted Ken Kesey around this same time. Kesey’s album was never finished but Brautigan’s was, getting as far as the test-pressing stage, but Allen Klein pulled the plug on Zapple before it could be manufactured for release. Proposed albums by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, and Lenny Bruce were also scotched.

Listening to Richard Brautigan did eventually appear on Harvest Records. It’s a mixed bag, but still would have been Zapple’s best album by a substantial margin.

Meanwhile, there was a mixing session at Olympic Studios today that was attended by all four Beatles. The purpose was to choose some between-song snippets for the Get Back album that Glyn Johns had been assembling, but the session devolved into squabbling over the appointment of the aforementioned Allan Klein as The Beatles’ new manager.

John, George, and Ringo had all signed Klein’s contract, but Paul didn’t want to. Says The Beatles Bible,

Lennon, Harrison, Starr and Klein walked out, with McCartney remaining behind at Olympic. By chance he encountered Steve Miller, who had arrived for a recording session.

Paul adds,

Steve Miller happened to be there recording, late at night, and he just breezed in. “Hey, what’s happening, man? Can I use the studio?”

“Yeah!” I said. “Can I drum for you? I just had a fucking unholy argument with the guys there.” I explained it to him, took ten minutes to get it off my chest. So I did a track, he and I stayed that night and did a track of his called “My Dark Hour.”

And so it came to pass that this song appeared on Miller’s Brave New World album with the note “Special thanks to Paul Ramon”:

This was an alias that Paul — a.k.a. Apollo C. Vermouth, a.k.a. Percy Thrillington — had previously used during a 1960 tour of Scotland with Johnny Gentle:

I became Paul Ramon, which I thought was suitably exotic. I remember the Scottish girls saying, “Is that his real name? That’s great.” It’s French, Ramon. Ra-mon, that’s how you pronounce it. 

Yes, at that point Paul still had to pretend to be French to pull birds. I wonder if there are any little Scottish Ramons running around out there? Well, they’d be almost 60, but you take my point.

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