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Beatles’ 1960 Bathroom Tapes: The 5 Best Tracks

Hear the Silver Beetles, featuring John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, in their first sessions

Colin Fleming Jun 17, 2015
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[youtube width=”640″ height=”358″]https://youtu.be/DKc4v3rIU1g[/youtube]

That’s George Harrison singing, and it’s always interesting to note how expressive his vocals could be, and his guitar playing as well, in the pre-fame years. Dude would let it go in a way he wouldn’t later, when Lennon and McCartney were calling more of the shots. Consider, for instance, this raver of a vocal from the Star Club tapes, which are also frequently overlooked. This is one of the few times these nascent Beatles hit something approaching a groove, but you can tell that they’re feeling pleased with themselves, almost as if they’re surprised that they’re all surging together, more or less. They loved “Matchbox” as a tune, and although no one ever says it, this BBC version is one of the best live things they ever did.

“Hello Little Girl”

[youtube width=”640″ height=”358″]https://youtu.be/fKoLpqACN4g[/youtube]

Twee, but tuneful, this was an original the Beatles believed in enough to run it out at their failed Decca audition on January 1st, 1962. This version has more charm, if less polish. Took some balls to think you could write a song as a teenager back then, as that wasn’t something even adult players and singers did. So a touch, then, of swagger as well, an attitude that would serve the band well in just a couple years, when everyone was telling them how much they sucked. And mark those Lennon and Macca harmonies. They’re in place, and they aren’t going anywhere.

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[youtube width=”640″ height=”358″]https://youtu.be/or1NmXWZsyE[/youtube]

The George Harrison show resumes with some fast-paced fretwork on this pacy instrumental. You want to know why Lennon let him into the band? This is why. Kid could play better than the others, as he would have had to in order to hang with this older lot. It’s a Duane Eddy number, and too little has been made about his influence on Harrison’s style, almost as if Eddy, with his clean image and clean-sounding licks, wasn’t hip enough to associate with wannabe Teddy Boy badasses. Which is bullshit if you listen here.

“One After 909”

[youtube width=”640″ height=”358″]https://youtu.be/iQhqdcSSABA[/youtube]

God how the Beatles must have loved this song. They’d return to it at EMI on March 5th, 1963, when their ascent was well underway, and then again for the Let It Be proceedings as they approached their final descent at the end of the decade. Lennon and McCartney whoop and whoo at will, and, in that regard, we’re not far away from the uncapped joy of some of the early hits.

“I’ll Follow the Sun”

[youtube width=”640″ height=”358″]https://youtu.be/sNB42uKKmME[/youtube]

This is something: a song that would later come out in December 1964 on Beatles for Sale, when the band were the biggest act on the planet. And here it is, going down in the tub, next to the shitter. The Beatles believed in it enough to remember it all of those years later, and had no problem putting it on their official sonic résumé. There is a Buddy Holly vein, but, more importantly, one that is full-on McCartney, with that lilting melody seeming to come from behind the burning orb in the title, to beckon you on a journey well worth taking. Not a hard sell.

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