The Beatles: Sessions

Thanks to the wonders of the XBox I’ve heard a “lost” Beatles album, Sessions.

In the mid-80s EMI planned on releasing an album of unreleased Beatles tracks. For a variety of reasons, made clear on this webpage, the album was never released. It would have been a single album of a dozen tracks, ranging from “Besame Mucho” to “What’s the New Mary Jane,” covering almost the entirety of the Beatles’ career. And at very much the eleventh hour, the album was shelved. All of the tracks planned for Sessions appeared on the Beatles Anthology albums, though perhaps not in the same mix as was prepared in 1984.

What I did was take the Beatles Anthology albums, copy the relevant tracks to the XBox hard drive, sequence them according to EMI’s planned running order. For good measure, I also copied over “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” the two John Lennon demo tracks completed for the Anthology project.

There’s a real difference to listening to Sessions as compared to the Anthologies. The Anthology albums are, with a few odd exceptions, sequenced in strict chronological or historical order, while Sessions has a sequence that makes an artistic point. Sessions begins with “Come and Get It,” an appropriate track to begin a collection of unreleased Beatles rarities–“If you want,” Paul sings, “here it is, come and get it.” From there we go to a growling Lennon vocal on “Leave My Kitten Alone.” Then some Paul songs, a George song, then the planned side one ends with “What’s the New Mary Jane,” cutting off abruptly at the end as John says, “Let’s stop, before they take us aw….” setting up a complete change on side two as it begins with “How Do You Do It,” a traditional four-piece arrangement rather than the experimental weirdness of “Mary Jane.”

In other words, Anthology feels like an archive. Sessions feels like an album. It’s hardly a perfect album, but I think it might be better for casual listening than the Anthologies.

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