Friday, May 9, 2008

Leave My Kitten Alone (Beatles Week)

The Beatles
Anthology I
"Leave My Kitten Alone"

I am a Springsteen fan. Those who share my obsession know that his officially released albums are but a minor part of his creative output – Springsteen releases an album every few years, but spends so much time writing and in the studio that there are many albums-worth of material that never make it to official release, including some of his greatest songs.

When the Beatles Anthology series was released I was hoping that it would contain a bunch of unreleased winners. I hadn't considered that, unlike Springsteen, the Beatles released an album every six months, and were releasing singles at a near constant rate. Anything of any quality at all made it to an album or a B-side simply because there was so much demand on them for more songs. (It is a testament to their ability as songwriters and performers that they produced so little crap, considering the manic pace of their official releases.)

And so, when the Anthology series came out, I found it to be filled with outtakes and live tracks, interesting in an historical sense to anyone at all fascinated by the band's creative process, but containing no songs of such quality that they could have been included on an official release.

Except for "Leave My Kitten Alone". That weird little chromatic run in the intro signals that something special is about to happen, at the energy never flags – "Kitten" is a non-stop rave up from beginning to end, featuring some passionate Lennon vocals that make you forget all about Little Willie John's original. This is the type of stuff that belied their Brian Epstein-conceived image as nice young men who are polite to your parents – the people who made "Kitten" are the kind of guys you would not want to run into in a dark alley.


Peter said...

That's probably what the Beatles meant when they said there was "nothing left in the can" - there were plenty of outtakes, but the vast majority of their good material had already been released.

Nanker said...

Yeah. I remember being extremely disappointed when the realisation hit that there was nothing left, that we had heard everything the Beatles had to offer. I'm sure every other major rock artists has some good songs sitting around that they never finished or never released for some reason. But except for "Leave My Kitten Alone" the Beatles released every releasable track they had when they had the chance.