Episode 257: Beatles Play The Blues

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The Beatles are not known as great Blues musicians. Otherwise, they are fine but the blues seems to elude them.

Still, they produced a few attempts at playing an instrumental blues, including ’12 Bar Original’ (Anthology), "Flying" (Magical Mystery Tour), "Cayenne" and "Cry for a Shadow" (Anthology). These are all interesting tracks, and they demonstrate that the blues is not their thing.

In particular, it highlights that they struggled to play an interesting blues solo. Understandable, since they were raised on Rock & Roll and Tin Pan Alley songs. This contrasts with other groups in the British Invasion, such as the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds etc. which were essentially Blues groups branching out into pop music.

The most bluesy track that the Beatles played never appeared on vinyl or CD. It is an improvisation recorded during the sessions for the Let It Be LP, on January 23rd, 1969. And it was Billy Preston on keyboards who lifted this jam session from the quality of a ‘4 guys making noise together’ to a pleasant blues instrumental. McCartney plays a decent but uneventful bass guitar to support Billy, Lennon is a constant timekeeper on rhythm guitar, and poor George struggles to come up with a solo on guitar. Several times during the jam, you can hear Billy Preston briefly pausing, waiting for a blues solo, but it never comes, so Billy plays on.

Here, salvaged from the cutting room of the new Get Back film, in stereoish, is this unknown Blues Jam w Billy Preston.

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