Saturday Single No. 25

Originally posted August 11, 2007

In the spirit of Vinyl Record day, slated for tomorrow, August 12, I’ve dipped into my small collection of singles and ripped today’s offering from a 45.

During the early 1970s, when I was trying to gather everything the Beatles had recorded – at least those recordings that had been released on Capitol or Apple – a couple of things struck me as odd. First of all, there was the LP titled Hey Jude or, in some cases, The Beatles Again. It was released in February 1970, to fill the gap between the previous autumn’s Abbey Road and Let It Be, slated for release in May. When I picked it up in August of 1970, I realized that it was made up of songs from throughout the years the Beatles recorded together, starting off with “Can’t Buy Me Love,” a 1964 single, and ending with “The Ballad of John & Yoko,” a 1969 single. In between came things like “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” from 1966, “Hey Jude” from 1968 and some other things.

It was a great LP to listen to, but in terms of sliding it in the stacks, it was hard to say where it fit in the Beatles’ recording career. And of course, it didn’t really fit, except that it brought out on LP things that had only ever been released on 45s up to that point. In Britain, it was quite common for groups to release singles – or four-song EPs – and then not include those songs on LPs. In the U.S., that wasn’t often done; singles were routinely pulled from albums to spur sales of those albums. It had, however, been done by Capitol with the Beatles: The recordings on Hey Jude were among those that had been released as singles or B-sides in the U.S. without appearing on LP.

The other oddity: With a little bit of digging, as “Hey Jude” and the rest of the songs played on my stereo in the late summer of 1970, I learned that there were some 45s I was going to have to find, containing four officially released Beatles recordings that had not been released on LPs. They were the single version of “Let It Be” and its odd B-side “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number),” the George Harrison-penned “The Inner Light,” which was the B-side to the “Lady Madonna” single, and “I’m Down,” released as the B-side to “Help!”

I eventually got all four, and over the years, when I’ve found a copy of those in better condition, I’ve upgraded. And I’ve collected later LP releases that included those four: The single version of “Let It Be” showed up on the 1973 anthology titled 1967-70. “I’m Down” was included on Rock & Roll Music in 1976. “The Inner Light” and “You Know My Name” eventually showed up on Rarities, released in 1980.

Of those four – and I still have the 45s for all of them – “I’m Down” and “Let It Be” are far better than the others. “You Know My Name” was a bad joke, and “The Inner Light” was Harrison’s first attempt at sharing his developing interest in Eastern philosophy and religion and was fairly stiff. To choose the better recording between the “Let It Be” single and “I’m Down,” however, is difficult. They’re both remarkable recordings. The “Let It Be” single is far better than the version eventually released on the album of the same name, and “I’m Down” has one of the best rock vocals that Paul McCartney ever put on tape; that and the instrumental support he gets from his band-mates makes it one of the rockingest things the Beatles ever did.

And they buried it on a B-side!

So, ripped from vinyl, “I’m Down” is today’s Saturday Single.

The Beatles – “I’m Down” [1965]


One Response to “Saturday Single No. 25”

  1. Celebrating Vinyl At 45 RPM « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] weren’t released on the original albums by the Fab Four on Capitol/Apple (a state of events I discussed during the celebration of last year’s Vinyl Record Day). There are about fifteen other singles […]

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