12. Final Live Concert At Candlestick Park (August 29th, 1966)
The Beatles never made an official announcement that their performance at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park was to be the last touring show of their career. But they all felt it would be, so Paul McCartney handed a small tape recorder to press officer Tony Barrow and asked him to document the occasion. And that wasn’t the only sign that something was different about this particular gig. Photos from the day show that the four were carrying cameras, and they reportedly paused during the performance to get a few group selfies from the stage. Paul’s tape ran out before they got through all of their last song, Little Richard‘s “Long Tall Sally,” but those in attendance swear that John played the guitar figure from “In My Life” as they took their final bow as a touring band and retreated to the studio phase of their career.
11. “Carnival Of Light” (1967)
There’s no better way to mark the Beatles new identity as a studio-based entity than a experimental “freak-out” sound collage! In fact, this 14-minute epic has become probably the single most sought-after Beatle recording in history. Artist David Vaughan asked Paul McCartney to contribute to the Million Volt Light and Sound Rave (also known as “The Carnival Of Light”), an event to showcase light displays and electronic music. So on January 5th 1967, after working on the extremely tuneful and organized “Penny Lane,” Paul decided to take things in a different direction. “I said ‘All I want you to do is just wander around all the stuff, bang it, shout, play it, it doesn’t need to make any sense. Hit a drum, then wander onto the piano, hit a few notes and just wander around’,” he told the BBC in 2008. The result was pure audio chaos, with no melody, rhythm, form, or lyrics.
The piece received its debut at the festival, where Vaughan was apparently left underwhelmed. “I asked Paul to do it and I thought he would make more of it than he did,” he was quoted as saying. “I thought this was a vehicle for him, if anything was. My trouble is, I expect everybody to drop everything. I forget other people have got things on.” Yeah, like recording Sgt. Pepper, one of the most ground-breaking records of the 20th century.
“Carnival Of Light” was presumably was never played again until 1987, when Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn was permitted to listen -and it apparently freaked him out. According to his book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, the track consisted of “distorted, hypnotic drum and organ sounds, a distorted lead guitar, the sound of a church organ, various effects (water gargling was one) and, perhaps most intimidating of all, John Lennon and McCartney screaming dementedly and bawling aloud random phrases like ‘Are you alright?’ and ‘Barcelona!’” Some echo-drenched overdubs included a schmaltzy cinema organ, jangling pub piano, Native American battle cries, whistling, close-miked gasping, coughing, studio banter, and electronic feedback with Lennon shouting ‘Electricity!’
So far the track has never appeared on any release, official or bootlegged. McCartney wanted to include it on the Anthology 2 compilation in 1996, but it was veto’d by George Harrison for being “too avant-garde.” He still holds the master tapes and has been teasing a legit release for years now. “The time has come for it to get its moment,” he added during the BBC interview. “I like it because it’s the Beatles free, going off piste.” Maybe he’ll include it on his upcoming record, New? We can hope…