Monthly Archives: January 2017

5th January 1967 Carnival of Light – a Legendary unreleased Beatles Track

On January 5th 1967 the Beatles recorded one of their strangest pieces of music, and to this day, it hasn’t been released. It was called Carnival of Light.

It was ‘written’ by Paul McCartney, for a an event at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London called  “The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave” Paul was asked to contribute a piece by David Vaughan, part of designer trio, Binder, Edwards & Vaughan. Carnival of Light was premiered at the event, and has never been heard in public again since! Playing live at the event were Unit Delta Plus, featuring Delia Derbyshire from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who previously had recorded the theme tune to ‘Dr Who’.

One of the few people to hear Carnival of Light is Mark Lewisohn, who was given access to it during the preparation for his book ‘The Complete Beatles Recording Session’. He describes it as  including “distorted, hypnotic drum and organ sounds, a distorted lead guitar, the sound of a church organ, various effects (water gargling was one) and, perhaps most intimidating of all, John Lennon and McCartney screaming dementedly and bawling aloud random phrases like ‘Are you alright?’ and ‘Barcelona!’

Paul McCartney has talked about the track many times since, but it still hasn’t been released. It was considered for the Beatles Anthology, but was vetoed by George Harrison. The ‘versions’ on youtube are sadly fake.

A poster the The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave - where Carnival of Light was premiered
A poster the The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave – where Carnival of Light was premiered

3rd January 1970 I Me Mine – the last Beatles Recording Session at Abbey Road

On January 3rd 1970, the Beatles returned to Abbey Road Studios for the first time since August 1969 to record ‘I Me Mine’ for the ‘Let it Be’ album. It was to become the last Beatles song to be recorded (well, at least until ‘Free as a Bird’ and ‘Real Love’ for the ‘Beatles Anthology’)

Only Paul, George and Ringo were present. The official reason that John wasn’t there was that he was on holiday in Denmark, but actually he had left the Beatles some months earlier, but it hadn’t been officially announced. During the recording session, George said ‘You will all have read that Dave Dee is no longer with us, but Mickey and Titch and I would just like to carry on the good work that’s always gone down in number two’.

I Me Mine actually dated back to the ‘Get Back’ sessions in January 1969, almost exactly a year earlier. It had been rehearsed during the first part of the sessions at Twickenham Film Studios, with great footage of John and Yoko waltzing to it. That clip was chosen to be in the film, but the song wasn’t recorded during the subsequent sessions at the Beatles’ Apple Studio. Therefore a recording had to be made to go on the album.

The original version of I Me Mine was only just over 1.5 minutes long. It was the last song they recorded.

But not the last recording session. The next day, Paul, George and Ringo returned to Abbey Road to record overdubs onto the January 1969 recording of ‘Let it Be’  So much for ‘Get Back’ – or ‘Let it Be’ as it became, being recorded ‘as nature intended’ – without overdubs!

However, that still not the end of the story! In March 1970, Phil Spector was brought in by John, George and Ringo to ‘reproduce’ the ‘Get Back’ tapes to make a new album, which had it’s title changed to ‘Let it Be’.Phil Spector ‘reproduced’ it to a  longer 2 minutes 25 seconds.

I Me Mine was finally released on the ‘Let it Be’ album on 8th May 1970.

Here is an outtake from the January 3rd 1970 recording session. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNYuaEluUgQ

Blogger Richard Porter is a professional Beatles Tour Guide in London. For details of Richard’s tours, please see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com