Re-recordings and Beatles give aways…

Just wanted to point out a pair of fascinating articles on Slate magazine for your reading (and listening) pleasure.

The first article, by Dave Mandl, explains why certain popular songs are re-recorded by the original artists and subsequently (and at times murkily/stealthily) released as if these are the original versions:

I suppose it doesn’t spoil the article too much by stating it all has to do with money.  The original artists while working on the original recordings usually signed terrible contracts that resulted in the artists losing royalties they might gain with said music.  Years later, the artists would re-record the songs and sometimes try to hit the material note-for-note so these new recordings may earn them the royalties they cannot gain from the originals.

The big issue is that often the song you as a consumer want is the original version and when you hear the re-recording you almost instantly realize this isn’t the version you want.  Thus the reason some artists may purposely blur the “original” song from the “remake” version.

But not all of them.

I recall a few years ago while listening to (I believe) First Wave on XM radio they had an interview with the two principal members of the band Squeeze.  The band members were promoting a “best of” collection that was about to be released…only every single song on this collection featured new recordings of their most famous works.  The band members were very upfront in explaining the album was a “re-recording”, even naming the album “Spot the Difference” to make it clear what it was audiences were buying.  The band members, in that interview, explained their reasons for re-recording the material, noting that one day they heard one of their songs on a TV commercial and realized they would not make a single penny out of the use of that song on that commercial.  The re-recording, thus, was a way to gain control of their music, albeit in a (obviously) re-recorded format.

Moving on, Andrew Grant Jackson offers a fascinating look (and listen) to a series of songs written by John Lennon and/or Paul McCartney between 1963 and 1964 and “given away” to other artists:

While I tend to favor Beatles music from 1965’s Help! on (and, don’t get me wrong, I consider many of their early works pretty damn good as well, I just happen to like their works from Help! on a little more), this article points out some very interesting songs that the Beatles wound up giving away.  Perhaps the most famous of the lot is “I Wanna Be Your Man”, which they gave to The Rollings Stones.  Of course, the Beatles would wind up recording their own really good version of the song as well!

A fascinating article.  I know there were more songs the Beatles gave away after this particular time period and would love to see (and hear!) more.