If you are a drooling Beatles fan like me, you probably assume that you’ve heard every single scrap of music they ever recorded. Between the Anthology series, the bootlegs, and the various re-issues and reworkings of their albums, virtually every sound ever recorded by this band has been released and documented. Even the meaningless studio chatter that was recorded has been examined and dissected to death. So you’re probably comfortable with the idea that you’ve heard everything, that the great well of Beatleness has finally run dry. Which is why this is really going to bake your noodle…
At some recent point George Martin and his son Giles were hanging out at Abbey Road, digging into master tapes for the Abbey Road album (for Scorsese’s George Harrison documentary). Dhani Harrison, George’s son, was with them. As they ran through each track for “Here Comes The Sun”, they uncovered an unheard, unused Harrison guitar solo in the bridge! It’s a beautiful little example of George Harrison’s expressive, economical lead guitar playing. At this point, finding lost Beatles sounds is becoming a rarity, so the idea that there are more sonic nuggets like this hidden away on tapes in the Abbey Road archive is tantalizing. It also highlights the dangers of wholesale conversion to digital media: when the analogue tapes are finally destroyed or lost, who will be the one to hold the editing knife? Will small, sparkling treasures like this short guitar solo be lost forever? Even if its just a sketch, an unused idea, isn’t it still significant because it comes from a great artist? Beyond that, Abbey Road is commonly regarded as one of the most immaculately composed, tightly arranged albums of all time, so its quite possible that there are many other things that were left out of the final mix. Editing was the name of the game for The Beatles at this point, so they’re are probably dozens of these “Easter eggs” hidden on master tapes.
However, the coolest moment in this video is when Dhani comments on the Indian influence on the rhythms of this song, to which George Martin replies with an obvious grin: “You’re just like your father”. It’s a beautiful, touching moment.
Here’s another clip I found online, also from the Scorsese documentary I assume, of a young Dhani jamming in the studio with his dad.