Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Sessions Album

About 10 years ago I was working on a book about the history of the Beatles' Anthology.   It was going to be call The Long and Winding Road to the Beatles Anthology.   I did a load of research and took a lot of notes.   I worked really hard on the project and then I realized that I didn't know the first thing about writing a book and that I was never going to be a Beatles writer.    My how my life has changed in 10 years!   I still don't consider myself to be a Beatles writer, but I do think that it is my hobby.   While looking for some Beatles photos, I stumbled across the notebook that  had been writing in, all of the research and the notes.    The stuff isn't terrible.   And so I decided that since it is the 20th anniversary of the Beatles Anthology, I would share on my blog what I had written for the book as articles.    Now---these were just drafts, and I am sure that more research was needed, but still I found some interesting information.   

The Beatles Sessions Album
By Sara Schmidt

By the late 1970's EMI/Capitol Records had realized an amazing truth:  Beatles records still brought in money.  Besides their back catalog, EMI/Capitol released albums including the "Red" and "Blue" Greatest Hits albums, the "Love Songs" albums and the "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" album all to great sales.   But what if a Beatles' album was released full of Beatles songs that the public had never heard before?   Fans knew it was possible thanks to Wally Podrazik and Harry Castleman's classic book, All together Now, which listed some titles of unreleased Beatles' songs.

Originally planned for release in 1981, EMI planned to put out a "new" Beatles single:  "Leave my Kitten Alone" backed with "How do you do it."  However, after John's death, the idea of the single was scrapped because EMI/Capitol did not want people to think that they were cashing in and trying to make money off of the murder of John Lennon. 

By the summer of 1984, enough time had passed that EMI was ready to work on a full  Beatles' album of unreleased songs.  Geoff Emerick worked with the master tapes and re-mixed them.  He worked through the summer at Abbey Road Studios in London editing and combining Beatles' songs into new versions.

Given the name "Sessions,"  the  new Beatles' album was tentatively set for release in November 1984, however the date was postponed because EMI did not want The Beatles' record to be in competition with Paul McCartney's "Give My Regards to Broadstreet."

As Beatlefan magazine reported in March 1985, side 1 was to include:  "Come and Get it," "Leave my Kitten alone," "Not Guilty," "I'm looking through you," and "What's the new Mary Jane."  Side 2 would have "How do you do it,"  "Besame Mucho,"  "One after 909,"  "If you've got troubles,"  "That Means A Lot,"  George's acoustic version of "While my Guitar Gently Weeps,"  and "Christmastime (is here again)."   A single of "Leave my Kitten Alone" backed with "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" was also in the works.

Front and back covers that were made for the 1985 Beatles' single 45

The album was to been packaged with a gate-fold cover and a special inner bag.   A black and white picture sleeve was designed for the single (see photos).   Allan Kozinn prepared the sleeve notes and a press release announced that the single would be out January 28, 1985 with the album released on February 25, 1985.

This was the back of the Sessions album

And then Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko learned of EMI's plans.  The Beatles had not been involved or even informed in regards to the "Sessions" album at all and reports at the time said that a mock-up of the album had been shown to the four and a law suit from Apple Records against EMI/Capitol followed shortly afterwards.   An EMI representative in London stated that they did not have to get permission to release the album.  Brian Southall, who worked for the London company said, "EMI has deferred to the group members out of respect."   David Kronemyer, who was the representative for Capitol Records in the United States said, "the Apple lawsuit does not impact on our rights to release Beatles materials."

Some reports claim that it was Ringo who was very vocal about his strong dislike for the release of the "Sessions" album while other reports said that it was Paul that was extremely angry so much so that he threatened to pull his future British Products from EMI.     Regardless of the reasons, the "Sessions," album never saw the light of day much of the disappointment of Beatles' fans who had been anticipating the release.   It would another 10 years before fans got to hear the offical releases of the songs that had been intended for "Sessions."

By late 1985, it became obvious that Apple and EMI were not going to work out their differences and the album was never going to materialize.   Tracks from the album somehow found their way into the hands of bootleggers who produced their own versions of the "Sessions" album, which was snatched up by fans around the globe.

The Sessions album cover I remember the most

Interesting memo sent out about the bootleg of Sessions.


  1. Fascinating! I thought I knew all there was to about this subject; didn't ever think about competing with "Broad Street"! And that memo!!!

    And well-written! Well-written, you Beatle Writer! You little Beatle Writer, you! There I said it! I just know that rankles some people..... people who WISH they had your readership.

    Most people who write about the Beatles are pathetic failed-writers, who add nothing, other than cluttering up the marketplace with irrelevant books. "50 Things You Didn't Know About The Beatles!" "Beatles For Idiots!", and of course..."The True Story Of The Beatles" (which, unless your initials are M.L., you have no business writing such a book).

    Great job, S.S.!

  2. Sessions is a good bootleg for fans - I love John's voice on Leave My Kitten Alone and Besame Mucho has always made me smile; thanks for the article !