Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Beatles By Others

There were several artists in the 1960s that had hits with Lennon/McCartney credited compositions that were either not recorded by the Beatles or were not released as Beatles' singles. Today, I feature three of these artists: Peter and Gordon, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and The Silkie.

Peter & Gordon: World Without Love

“World without Love” was one of four Paul McCartney compositions recorded by Peter Asher and Gordon Waller. At the time, Paul was dating Peter’s sister Jane Asher and specifically wrote the songs for the British invasion duo. As with their arrangement with publisher Northern Songs, most songs written by either John Lennon or Paul McCartney were automatically credited as Lennon/McCartney compositions despite the input or lack thereof of one of the songwriting duo.

While “World without Love” predated Paul's relationship with the Asher family and had been offered initially to Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, it quickly became a number one hit single for Peter and Gordon in the US and UK. Other McCartney songs released as singles for the duo included “Nobody I Know,” “I Don’t Want to See you Again,” and “Woman.” The latter was credited to Bernard Webb as an experiment to see if Peter and Gordon could have a hit with a McCartney song without it bearing his name. They could and did.

Peter & Gordon live in Beckley, WV in 1965

Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas: Bad To Me

From Liverpool, Billy J. Kramer shared management with The Beatles under the auspices of Brian Epstein. While Kramer’s band the Coasters were lackluster in their live performances, Epstien hired a Manchester based band the Dakotas to perform as his backup. Signed under a separate contract, the recordings in the UK were listed as “Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas.” Since the Dakotas had no separate US contract, the labels on Kramer’s releases on Imperial Records have the artist as “Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.”

Kramer and company recorded a number of Lennon/McCartney compositions including “Do You Want to Know A Secret,” “Bad to Me,” “I’ll Call Your Name,” “I’ll Keep You Satisfied,” and “From a Window.” “Bad to Me,” penned by John Lennon, charted at #9 in the US as the flip to “Little Children” which peaked at #7.

The Silkie: You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

Unlike the previous two examples which were not released by The Beatles, The Silkie’s version of “You’ve got to hide your Love Away” was a song the Fab Four would release on their “Help” soundtrack. The Silkie, another Epstein managed group, were recording in the same studio as The Beatles and received some additional help from their friends.

The Beatles gave The Silkie, known as Britain's answer to Peter, Paul and Mary, the opportunity to release the song as a single. Additionally, three Beatles participated in the recording. Paul played guitar, George provided percussion by tapping on his guitar, and John produced the single. The result – the song peaked at #28 in the UK but was a top 10 hit in the US.

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