Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Beatles First EMI Recording Session - 6 June 1962 - Page 3

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With the session complete, George Martin invited The Beatles up to the control room to listen to the tapes and to discuss technicalities.

"We gave them a long lecture about their equipment and what would have to be done about it if they were to become recording artists," Norman Smith told Mark Lewisohn in The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. "They didn't say a word back, not a word, they didn't even nod their heads in agreement. When he finished, George said 'Look, I've laid into you for quite a time, you haven't responded. Is there anything you don't like?' I remember they all looked at each other for a long while, shuffling their feet, then George Harrison took a long look at George and said 'Yeah, I don't like your tie!' That cracked the ice for us and for the next 15-20 minutes they were pure entertainment. When they left to go home George and I just sat there saying 'Phew! What do you think of that lot then?' I had tears running down my face."

Richards and Martin had not been particularly impressed by the music, and felt that there was nothing special about it. There, however, a unique and undefinable quality to their sound. The group were also, with exception of the ever reticent Pete Best, exuberant and natural comedians,  and Martin recognised that this would work in their favour. He also noticed Paul McCartney's pretty-boy looks, the mop-top fringes worn by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, and the matching suits chosen, with an eye on presentation and commercial potential, by the fashion concious Epstein. Deciding that he had nothing to lose, he sanctioned the addition of a binding EMI signature on The Beatles' contract.

But one thing worried him. Pete Best, he decided, was not up to studio standard as a drummer. The contract was issued with the proviso that a session drummer would be used on The Beatles' recordings. Four years previously, Cliff Richard had recorded his debut single, Move It, in the the same studio using session musicians to replace his regular guitarist and drummer (in fact Frank Clarke, who played the double-bass on Move It, would go on to contribute double-bass to The Beatles' own Penny Lane several years later.)

Best's unsteady playing on this session's version of Love Me Do demonstrates all too clearly why Martin wanted to substitute a session player for recording, and why Lennon, Harrison and Starr decided to sack him two months later.

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