From the Vault...


The Beatles
"The Early Tapes"

© Polydor Records

Year of Release: 1985

track listing
  • Ain't She Sweet
  • Cry For A Shadow
  • When The Saints
    Go Marching In
  • Why
  • If You Love Me Baby
  • What'd I Say
  • Sweet Georgia Brown
  • Let's Dance
  • Ruby Baby
  • My Bonnie
  • Nobody's Child
  • Ready Teddy
  • Ya Ya
  • Kansas City

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    "The Early Tapes"

    Everyone has a humble beginning. And in the early stages of what would later be the next big influence in music (Elvis Presley accomplished this before them), The Beatles were starting out, as they were recording with a popular British singer by the name of Tony Sheridan. With Sheridan, and on their own, The Beatles recorded many songs before they became well-known popular musicians before 1964. The Early Years captures the early recordings of The Beatles, and with Sheridan (known as Tony Sheridan with The Beatles, and Tony Sheridan with The Beat Brothers).

    Most of the songs are covers of well-known songs recorded before. "Ain't She Sweet" recognizes John Lennon as an up-and-coming basic rock-n-roll singer, as many of the early 1950s artists before him. Ray Charles' "What I'd Say" (credited as Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers) provides a good vocal by Sheridan, and could be a good Ray Charles impersonation, so to speak. "Sweet Georgia Brown" is credited as Tony Sheridan and The Beatles, and since I am so used to this song being an instrumental (The Harlem Globetrotters come to mind), this song should remain as an instrumental.

    Other covers by Sheridan and The Beat Brothers: "Let's Dance," which was most popular by Chris Montez, and Dion's "Ruby Baby". Again, sorry to say -- Tony Sheridan does a good job, but the Montez and Dion's versions both gets the thumbs up, however, "Ruby Baby" is done well, and is much better than "Let's Dance."

    Probably the best Sheridan song here is "My Bonnie" (Tony Sheridan and The Beatles). Rocking in early Beatles style, it would often be a wonder if John Lennon had sung this song instead. It would of been much better than Sheridan, and maybe that's what Brian Epstein had seen with the music, when he was interested in purchasing a copy of this record when released, and the rest we can say, is history.

    The flip side of "Ain't She Sweet" was the ballad "Nobody's Child," sung by Tony Sheridan. Of the ballads by Sheridan on this album, this would have to be the best one.

    The George Harrison-John Lennon "Cry For A Shadow" is an excellent instrumental, as it focuses on the unique guitar work of Harrison. Interesting fact: "Ain't She Sweet" and "Cry For A Shadow" are the only songs credited as The Beatles.

    The standard "When The Saints Go Marching In" has Tony Sheridan sounding almost like an Elvis impersonator (that may be the downside), but the music provided by The Beatles is truly interesting in sound, as it work later define the early sound and style of The Beatles' early popular recordings (pre-1966). "Why" was co-written by Sheridan; this ballad may sound a little boring, but its the musical arrangements that stands out -- played by The Beatles. The same can be said for "If You Love Me Baby" -- not written by Sheridan, yet this ballad may sound boring too, but its the music that makes it interesting. Even the guitar solo in this song is so obscure, to how guitar solos would later be energized in sound in the much later years of the 1960s and beyond.

    The remaining 3 songs would be later recorded by The Beatles themselves in their later years, and for these versions with Tony Sheridan, we can just listen to the music, and enjoy it more than Sheridan's vocals. Little Richard's "Ready Teddy" has Sheridan doing a fine job on vocals, yet the live recording of Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya" would of been better if John Lennon had provided the vocals. And Tony Sheridan may have had Paul McCartney take the vocals on "Kansas City," if given the opportunity. McCartney's vocal on The Beatles version years later defintely puts Sheridan to shame in comparing these two.

    Ignoring the vocals of Tony Sheridan, and just enjoying the music played by an unknown band at the time, The Beatles, is really the only enjoyment of this album. After 30 years in listening to this album, Tony Sheridan may not have been one of the true great singers to come out of the late 1950s-early 1960s, yet the band who backed him up would later change the world of popular music as we know it. It would of been better if John Lennon and/or Paul McCartney was given more opportunites to sing these records, as they would prove better than Tony Sheridan, that they would be a force to reckon with. (A very enjoyable set than this week's album review is the early Hamburg Star Club recordings.)

    We credit Brian Epstein in discovering The Beatles. Maybe he heard something different than anyone else when he heard the music played by Tony Sheridan's backup band. Little did we all know that what Epstein found was 4 great musicians who would get better recognition, and truly change music, and become an influence to many groups and artist who came after them. The Beatles is one group that stands out as being a major impact to many of future music stars' lists. After them and beyond, The Beatles will always be an influence and inspiration to music fans and musicians for many generations to come.

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