Joe Strummer once sang ‘Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust’, he was right, now we have hardcore, deep-rooted Beatlemania. At an event staged by Mojo magazine in Abbey Road Studios there was no shortage of serious Beatles fans; they had gathered to find out which of the band’s ‘deep cuts’ had been voted the best by Mojo readers. They were the lucky readers who’d won a competition to come along and hear a panel of experts discuss the merits of the Beatles’ lesser known songs, specifically the best 14 tunes that had not been included on the red and blue compilation albums.
The panel consisted of compere Colin Murray, a quick-fire wit usually found introducing football or hosting Fighting Talk on Radio 5 Live, Mojo editor Phil Alexander, Guardian journalist John Harris, BBC 6Music presenter and sometime singer Tom Robinson, Beatles at the Beeb writer Kevin Howlett and finally two full time musicians Robyn Hitchcock and Ian McNabb (formally of the Icicle Works).
Abbey Road engineer Sean McGee was responsible for remastering the new vinyl cuts of the Beatles back catalogue, and he was on hand to explain that mastering is the final process in the production chain. The quality control stage carried out by a mastering engineer in a studio that he or she knows [the sound of] intimately. He played some of the new Beatles vinyl on a Rega RP6 turntable running through Classé amplification and Bowers & Wilkins 800 Diamond loudspeakers. These usually seem pretty big but in the barn that is Studio 2 they almost disappeared, the sound however was massive, the combination of a great system in a great room working out rather well.
The panellists came up with their suggestions for tracks that they felt were worthy deep cuts, Robinson and Howlett who’d grown up with the Beatles chose early numbers There’s A Place and All I’ve Got To Do respectively. Phil Alexander dismayed the crowd by announcing that he’d grown up in a Stones household but picked It’s All Too Much from Yellow Submarine while John Harris was the only one to chose a tune from Sgt. Pepper’s in Getting Better. The musicians opted for mid period classics, McNabb went for Rain, citing that its powerful sound was the result of an early compressor made at Abbey Road called ATOC (automatic transient overload control) which made it louder and amped up the bass. He called it the moment that the Beatles veered out of pop into rock. McNabb played a highly competent version of Rain, right down to the final backwards verse, which impressed the crowd no end. Hitchcock went for Yes It Is, the b-side to Ticket to Ride.
When the 14 songs that Mojo readers had voted best Beatles Uncovered were revealed only two of the panellists choices were among them, a list dominated by the writing of John Lennon, probably because McCartney’s work was too successful to be eligible.
Mojo readers’ top 14 deep cuts
- Tomorrow Never Knows
- Hey Bulldog
- Happiness is a Warm Gun
- And Your Bird Can Sing
- For No One
- Dear Prudence
- It’s All Too Much
- Long Long Long
- I’m Only Sleeping
- You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
- Helter Skelter
- I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
- She Said She Said
What are your thoughts on these deep cuts? Does Tomorrow Never Knows even count as a ‘deep cut’? It’s incredibly well known, but just happens not to be on the red or blue albums.
We’d be fascinated by your thoughts, and your own personal deep cuts.