“We had decided to gather up our fragments of songs we hadn’t quite finished and create a train of thoughts that could bring the album to a close.”
—Paul McCartney, Super Deluxe Liner Notes

When making a movie directors usually assemble what’s called a rough cut, where the scenes are edited together in something resembling the desired order to see how they flow. “The Long One,” included in the Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition, is essentially the rough cut of the big side 2 medley.

The most obvious difference is that “Her Majesty” is nestled in there between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam.” To an ear accustomed by long experience to the “Mustard”/“Polythene” segue, this sounds extremely wrong, and one is tempted to say that deleting “Majesty” was absolutely the right call. But if they’d left it in, we’d be used to that and anything else would probably sound off.

Some of the songs are the same versions that appear in the final product, some are not; the vocals are noticeably inferior in a couple of places. The sound effects between “You Never Give Me Your Money” and “Sun King” are not yet in place, and “The End” is in embryonic form without guitar solos, vocals, or strings. But in general the whole thing works very well, if you ask me. It could have been put on the album as is and no one would have been embarrassed.

Had the relationships between them not already been so poisoned at this point, The Beatles probably could have made 10 more albums this way. The Get Back/Let It Be session tapes alone contain dozens, maybe hundreds, of song fragments that could have gotten the same treatment — maybe re-recorded a little more smoothly, and stitched together into larger pieces. This is sort of what Glyn Johns tried to do with the aborted Get Back albums, and possibly what Peter Jackson and company are doing even now with their newly granted access to the archives.

I try not to get too optimistic about these kinds of things. But there is reason to hope, if not expect, that yet further Beatles revelations await us in the future.

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