Friday, February 5, 2010

Dr. Feelgood & The Interns: Mr. Moonlight

Well this wasn’t a hit for anyone, but if you had a copy of either the “Beatles for Sale” or “Beatles 65” albums, you are familiar with the Fab Four's version of “Mr. Moonlight.” The song was originally recorded in 1962 by Dr. Feelgood and the Interns, and it was the flip of their eponymous single “Dr. Feelgood.”

Released on the OKeh label, I have seen this single with three different commercial versions of the label. For those who care, one variation is the yellow OKeh label with black print and two semicircles. A second variation is the same design as the yellow; however, it has a dark purple label with gold lettering. The third variation is a dark purple OKeh label with gold lettering and no semicircles or lines and has “45” in a larger typeface. OKeh had a later version of the same design featuring a medium purple label with white text.

I am not sure which version was the original, or if by chance CBS’ various pressing plants across the country were simultaneously issuing records with different labels. My version of the single is the third variation mentioned above. I got my copy of this single when I worked at WCIR in the 1980s.

Periodically, the station would pitch singles that they no longer played. Always inquisitive about what was no longer valued, I rescued this particular record from the trash heap. Unfortunately, it had taken the abuse of its former owner whose name adorns the label. At some point, a disc jockey, who had long left the region, had bequeathed it to the station and my curiosity saved it from the landfill.

My first experience with the song was by the Beatles in the early 70s when I found a copy of the German import of “Beatles for Sale.” Much later, I added “Beatles 65” to my collection – an album similar to the “Beatles for Sale” configuration – it too has “Mr. Moonlight.” “Beatles for Sale” was released in most countries. Due to union restrictions regarding album photography, the Australian version had a different cover design.

The German version of "Beatles for Sale" on the Odeon-EMI label.

In the US and Canada, the slightly different “Beatles 65” was released and featured only 11 cuts as opposed to the 14 found elsewhere. On the Capitol release, “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey,” “Eight Days a Week,” “Honey Don’t,” “Every Little Thing,” “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” and “What You’re Doing” were eliminated.

Mono pressing of "Beatles 65" on US Capitol.

Added to the North American release was the double sided hit single: “She’s a Women” and “I Feel Fine,” which was not included on “Beatles for Sale.” The songs eliminated from “Beatles 65” eventually were included on the subsequent Capitol release of “Beatles VI,” which included three additional songs from the British version of “Help”; “Yes It Is,” the flip side of “Ticket to Ride”; and “Bad Boy,” which was intended originally as a recording only for release in North America.

New Improved Full Dimensional Stereo US "Beatles VI"

I am aware of one other country that released a version of “Beatles 65.” In Japan, the LP was re-titled as “Beatles 5.” In addition to this album and its follow-up “Beatles VI,” the Japanese also simultaneously released “Beatles for Sale.” It has been said that Japan released more different Beatles albums than any other country. I happen to have the Japanese “Beatles VI” LP in my collection.

Besides being gypped by only having 11 cuts, “Beatles 65” was not released as a gatefold album as was “Beatles for Sale.” In addition, the interesting liner notes written by Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor are also missing. These give some insight into the Beatle’s recording of “Mr. Moonlight.”

According to Taylor, “There are few gimmicks or recording tricks, though for effect, the Beatles and their recording manager George Martin, have slipped in some novelties. Like Paul on Hammond organ to introduce drama into Mr. Moonlight, which also, and for the first time, has George Harrison applying a thump to an elderly African drum because Ringo was busy elsewhere in the studio, playing bongos. George's thump remains on the track. The bongos were later dropped.”

The Beatles really capture the spirit of the original, and it remains one of my favorite cuts from “Beatles for Sale” and “Beatles 65.”

The Beatles’ Version

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