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All Things Must Pass? Not the Beatles

August 25, 1996|Rip Rense and Jerry Crowe

Ready for Beatlemania III?

Retailers are hoping you are as they get ready for the fall release of the third, two-disc volume in the "The Beatles Anthology" series.

Though sales of Vol. 2, which was released in March, are far short of Vol. 1, which was released last November, record chain execs are hoping that the new package will benefit from the same holiday sales rush that helped make the first volume such a blockbuster. According to SoundScan, Vol. 1 has sold about 3.3 million copies, while Vol. 2 has sold only about 1.2 million.

"With the timing of the album, the latest 'Anthology' should do very well," said Norman Hurd, senior music merchandiser for the 510-store Blockbuster Music chain. "We feel very confident about it. We are anticipating some good numbers."

And the retailers hope they've got a few aces up their sleeves.

First, sales could be boosted by a rebroadcast by ABC-TV of last fall's six-hour Beatles documentary. Plus, there'll be a lot of media attention devoted to the Sept. 5 release on home video and laser disc of an expanded, 10-hour version of the documentary.

The final ace, of course, is the music.

The album's highlights, according to sources who have heard parts of the package, include a lush, a cappella version of "Because" as well as gentle George Harrison solo performances of "All Things Must Pass" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

The new album will contain 49 new Beatles tracks drawn from rehearsals, outtakes and alternate versions of songs from "The Beatles" (the so-called White Album of 1968), the ill-fated "Get Back"/"Let It Be" sessions and "Abbey Road." Several of the tracks are acoustic rehearsals for the White Album, held in May 1968 at Harrison's home. There will be no third reunion song, according to Capitol sources.

Though Capitol has not released a list of full selections, a list of songs in the current issue of ICE, the CD news magazine, is probably close to the mark, says Bill King, editor of Beatlefan, the premiere Beatles fan publication.

But King hastens to add, "We've seen last-minute changes before, like when the running order of 'Vol. 2' was changed by [Paul] McCartney, at tremendous expense. I understand [the Beatles and John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono] are reviewing the lineup until the last possible minute in order not to repeat that kind of costly mistake."

Here's a look at some of the likely tracks, Beatle by Beatle:

John Lennon: An a cappella Beatles version of "Because" that a Capitol executive said "will make you cry"; alternate takes of "Cry Baby Cry," "Glass Onion," "Julia," "Come Together"; 1968 demos of "Mean Mr. Mustard," "Polythene Pam" and "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"; a bit of "Ain't She Sweet" recorded during the 1969 "Abbey Road" sessions; and, at long last, the eternally bootlegged let's-debunk-the-Beatles goof "What's the New Mary Jane."

Paul McCartney: A demo of "Junk," intended for the White Album but instead recorded solo for McCartney's 1970 debut album; alternate versions of "Obla-di, Obla-da," "Hey Jude" and "Dig a Pony" (of which McCartney has remarked, "John and I sing like angels"); and a one-man-band version of "Come and Get It," which McCartney gave to Badfinger.

George Harrison: "All Things Must Pass," "Something" and "Old Brown Shoe"--all solo acoustic demos from Harrison's birthday, Feb. 25, 1969; the never-released "Not Guilty," left off the White Album; an alternate take of "I Me Mine"; and the legendary, arresting solo version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Ringo Starr: Alternate versions of "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden," and, if you're counting drum solos (Ringo only did one while a Beatle), an outtake of "The End." One intriguing Ringo-related track is a take of "Goodnight," from the White Album. It is not known if this version of the Lennon-penned lullaby is sung here by Starr or Lennon.

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