As Nature Intended
The Glyn Johns Compilations
"The tape ended up like the bootleg version. We let Glyn Johns remix it, we didn't want to know. We just left it to
him and said, 'Here, do it.' It's the first time since the first album that we didn't have anything to do with it. None of
us could be bothered going in. Everybody was probably thinking, 'Well, I'm not going to work on it.' Nobody could face looking at it."
"I thought it would be great to go out - the shitty version - because it would break The Beatles. It would break the myth: 'That's us, with no trousers on and no glossy paint over the cover and no sort of hope. This is what we are like with our trousers off, so would you please end the game now."
- John Lennon
Most Beatles fans are familiar with The Beatles' nearly disastrous "Get Back/Let It Be Sessions" in January 1969 that, ultimately, resulted in the Let It Be album and movie. Many fans are also aware that an earlier
album titled Get Back was compiled from the sessions by engineer/producer Glyn Johns and was scheduled
for release at various times throughout 1969 and early 1970. Apparently, Glyn made at least four different variants of his compilation. Three of these compilations were considered for release with each successive one superseding the previous. Glyn also produced a compilation which, at one point, was rumored to be considered as potentially part of a second album of jams and rock & roll oldies.
(Click the images to see the individual compilations)
The images used to represent compilations 1-4, above and throughout this section, are there strictly for illustration purposes. Although they all seem to be authentic cover designs, they are not intended as
definitive images for their respective compilations. I think the image for compilation 2 is authentic, but I
have seen no valid evidence to support that.
Phil Spector began his work on Get Back on 23 March 1970. In Chronicles, Mark Lewisohn illustrates the
image I use for compilation 4 and captions it as from March 1970. He further states that the Get Back title
was still planned as late as spring 1970 when Spector's work was almost finished. At which time the title
was changed to Let It Be. He does not indicate, specifically, if the March cover was intended for Glyn's or Spector's version of the album.
The Anthology book illustrates the cover below with no caption and there is no further indication how far it
predates the image used for compilation 4.
(Click the pic for a larger view)
Part of the puzzle is the various legends used and what performances actually qualified as 'songs'. I'm
inclined to believe that, although "Maggie Mae" was listed as a 'song' on Spector's Let It Be album, it
along with "Rocker/Save The Last Dance", "Get Back (Reprise)" and, possibly, "Dig It" weren't originally intended as 'songs', per se. They were likely considered as filler or "link tracks".
An alleged 1969 press release written by Mal Evans, which describes the Get Back album, indicates "Rocker/Save The Last Dance" and "Maggie Mae" as "link tracks".
The tape box for compilation 4 (seen on this page) lists "Rocker/Save The Last Dance" (as Link, Rock
'n' Roll, Chat) and "Maggie Mae" as individual tracks on the tape. But does this indicate that they were
considered as 'songs'?
The acetate used for the "oldies" compilation image does, indeed, contain the performances and mixes referenced here but it's doubtful that this acetate is the source of the available recordings. The acetate
image for compilation 1 is merely a generic image taken from what is alleged to be a Get Back acetate.
According to Beatle folklore, in the latter part of 1969, promotional copies of the Get Back album were distributed to radio stations (and other media outlets) in the United States. The September 20, 1969 issue
of Rolling Stone magazine even featured a review of the album. In fact, no promotional copies of the album
were released to anyone. See a well done 1986 bootleg fabrication - here. However, by September 1969,
Glyn John's first two compilations somehow made their way to radio stations throughout the eastern United States. Shortly afterward, bootleg (unauthorized) record releases began to appear in U.S. record shops. The
first Beatles bootleg, Kum Back, sourced from Glyn's first compilation, appeared in late 1969.
An infamous legend holds that John Lennon, himself, leaked an acetate or tape to the public during a trip
to Canada on 13 September 1969 for his performance at the Toronto Rock & Roll Festival (Live Peace In
Toronto). Allegedly, this was a trade for some unreleased Beatles recordings that he didn't have (John is
known as a recordings collector). It's also known that John loathed the "Get Back Sessions" and the theory
is that John wanted the world to know how "shitty" The Beatles had become. However, this theory has yet
to see any valid verification.
Another speculation is that Paul, who was the biggest supporter of the sessions, let the recordings out so
that folks would know what The Beatles had done. Even George Martin and Glyn Johns have been targets
for leak theories. But the likely source is someone from within the Apple (dis)organization.
COMPLETE MIXING SESSIONS AS DOCUMENTED BY JOHN BARRETT AND MARK LEWISOHN
Because most of the mixing sessions were not done at E.M.I. Studios, definitive, detailed and accurate documentaion is not available. John Barrett's dates tend to be quite inaccurate and are likely based on the
date an individual reel was returned to and logged at E.M.I. In turn, most of Lewisohn's original dates, as
noted in Recording Sessions, are clearly based on Barrett's notes. In Chronicle, Lewisohn updates and,
at the same time, generalizes his information (details noted below).
A financial statement for the 9 May 1969 mixing session at Olympic Studios
In summation, it seems as though the individual compilations were prepared on the following dates:
mixed and compiled 24, 25, 27 January 1969 - acetates cut 30 January 1969
First available 1969
This was never scheduled for release.
First available 1984 and 1987
mixed, compiled and acetates cut 30 January 1969
This was considered but never scheduled for release. It never went beyond this point.
First available 1969
mixed 3, 4, 7 April, 2 May 1969 - compiled and acetates cut 7, 9 May 1969
This was more of a prototype and probably never scheduled for release.
First available 1974
edited from compilation 2 on 15 May 1969 - complied and acetates cut 28 May 1969
This was scheduled for release in August, November, December 1969 and early 1970.
First available 1999
edited, mixed and compiled 15, 21 December 1969 and 5 January 1970
It appears as though this never actually had a scheduled release date.
A February 1970 article about Get Back from Circus magazine can be read here.
Of course, Get Back was handed to Phil Spector, reconfigured and released in 1970 as Let It Be.
Initial copies released in England and Canada were a box set featuring a 160 page book.
Click the image above to download a .pdf version of the book.
For details about several other Get Back associated acetates (including those illustrated above)
see here and here
OFFICIALLY RELEASED MATERIAL FROM THE "GET BACK SESSIONS":
"Get Back/Don't Let Me Down"
single (mono & stereo)
produced be George Martin
and promo video
released April 1969
"Let It Be" single
produced by George Martin
released March 1970
Let It Be album
produced by Phil Spector
released May 1970
Let It Be movie
directed by Michael Lindsey-Hogg
released May 1970
Imagine: John Lennon docmentary movie
Anthology 3 album
produced by George Martin
Let It Be... Naked album
produced by Paul Hicks, Guy Massey and Allan Rouse
Promos and EPKs
various unique mixes and film clips throughout various years
Let It Be movie
reported for release in late 2005
This section of TheBeatleSource was designed as a companion piece to the Get Back chapter
in the third volume of author John C. Winn's excellent series, The Beatles' Recorded Legacy.
For the defintive analysis of the various Get Back compilations and how they came into circulation,
LIFTING LATCHES: INSIDE THE BEATLES VAULTS
Click the pic to order now!