Apparently the company responsible for the North American releases didn’t think all the material had a thick enough sound. They brought in session players to beef up a few tracks, including “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby,” and “Ain’t She Sweet.” We get both the original and dubbed versions of each.
Speaking of the overdubbed versions, it was legendary session drummer Bernard Purdie who did the drum overdubs for those aforementioned tracks. These are, in fact, the only examples of Purdie playing on Beatles records – and it was, of course, Pete Best’s drumming that he overdubbed.
Somehow over the years, Purdie got it in his mind that he filled in for Ringo Starr on a bunch of early Beatles recordings. His persistence has convinced many people that this actually happened, yet there is not one shred of evidence to back up his claims. Three songs sung by Tony Sheridan, all recorded prior to Starr’s first appearance with the band, were his only contributions to The Beatles discography.
Incidentally, Sheridan also overdubbed new lyrics to “Sweet Georgia Brown” that directly reference The Beatles. This version was released after Beatlemania had begun. The very different original version (the lone surviving recording from the ’62 session) is included as well, featuring piano playing by Roy Young (who was present at the original session).
In a way, it’s actually too bad that Sheridan was involved at all, as it would’ve been much more preferable hearing The Beatles sing these songs. First Recordings – 50th Anniversary Edition isn’t likely to interest anyone except for hardcore Beatles fans, but of course there are millions of those. So it’s great that Time-Life has issued them again in such a complete and excellent sounding release. Extensive liner notes provide the historical context needed to enhance your enjoyment of these recordings.