Friday, June 28, 2013

Apple Records: Apple Scruffs

In November 1970, George Harrison laid down the tracks for today’s Apple Records’ song which also qualifies as a Friday Flipside. The song “Apple Scruffs” was a tribute to hard-core Beatlemaniacs that traipsed around London looking for one of the Fab Four. They were at their most active during period when The Beatles were transitioning from a band to solo musicians.

The Apple Scruffs’ primary home was the front steps of The Beatles’ business venture Apple Corps or just outside the studios where one or several of the band were involved in recording sessions. Their name, which they embraced, was coined by George Harrison.

Originally The Beatles were annoyed by their presence, but later they grew to accept and somewhat appreciate these fans. The song appeared on George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” album (which had an orange apple label) and was the flipside to “What is Life” – the album’s second single.

With “Apple Scruffs” appearing as the “B” side to a single that charted at #10 in 1971, it got plenty exposure in the US including being flipped by DJs and garnishing a minimal amount of airtime in the process. The recording was primarily Harrison on lead and back-up vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, and double tracked slide guitars. Beatles’ road manager Mal Evans can be heard playing a wood block on the cut.

I always thought that Harrison used an octave Echo Harp on this cut, but I can’t be certain. It appears though that he is playing a harmonica in the key of “A” in the first position – a style utilized by Dylan and a number of folk performers. Blues harmonica players (among others) prefer second position that utilizes a harmonica in one key to play in a key a fifth higher.

This primarily acoustic track is often compared to Bob Dylan’s style – presumably because of the acoustic guitar and the harmonica. In my book, the comparison ends there.

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