Unearthed Beatles Single Stirs Mixed Emotions

Recently discovered song from '68 has radio personalities and fans intrigued.

Beatles fans read the news today, oh boy, about a long-lost single by the Fab Four. And though the news was rather surprising, some devotees were more curious than overjoyed.

"I'm sure I'll like it, but I probably would've liked it more in 1968," Lee Rand, 50, of Maine said. Rand was responding to word that a never-before-heard song by the legendary British group will be released as a single this summer.

Another fan, from New Jersey, said the discovery of such a song sounds "fishy."

According to reports published Monday (May 10), the three surviving members of the world's most renowned rock band will release the song as it was found, with no remixing. The song was recorded during the sessions for the Beatles' 1969 animated film "Yellow Submarine" and its accompanying soundtrack.

Beatles spokesperson Geoff Baker told Reuters that the song, with vocals by the late John Lennon, is "a real rocker."

Veteran British rocker David Bowie, in a commencement address to Berklee College of Music graduates Saturday in Boston, said Lennon was a great mentor who "defined for me how one could twist a certain fabric of pop and impure it with elements from other art forms, often producing something extremely beautiful, very powerful."

If the new song is "killer, absolutely timeless, then it will be played [on the radio]," said Kent Zimmerman, a senior editor at the radio-industry publication Gavin.

The release of the single, whose title has not been revealed, will coincide with a re-release this summer of the psychedelic-influenced "Yellow Submarine" film and album, Baker told Reuters. The album includes such songs as "All You Need Is Love," "Hey Bulldog" and "Only a Northern Song."

Fans on the rec.music.beatles newsgroup expressed both enthusiasm for and skepticism about the unearthed song.

Sean Courtney, 24, of Ocean Grove, N.J., wrote that he and other fans who are well-schooled in the minutiae of Beatles history are skeptical about the reports. He said they are worried the track will turn out to be a song they've already heard in some form or another.

But both Courtney and Rand expressed curiosity about which song will be featured as the single's B-side.

The new single will not be the first "new" Beatles track to be released during the '90s. The surviving members released two new songs in 1995 and 1996.

"Free as a Bird" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Real Love" (RealAudio excerpt), which appeared on the first two volumes of the multimillion-selling Anthology series, featured Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr adding new backing tracks to solo recordings by Lennon. Lennon was murdered outside his Manhattan, N.Y., apartment in 1980 at the age of 40.

Patty Martin, music director of the Chicago adult-alternative station WXRT-FM, said the recent release of those songs makes the prospect of yet another Beatles track less exciting than it could have been.

Her station and others might well play the track, she said, but, "I can't answer that question until we hear [the song]."

The 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology featured still more unreleased material, this time from Lennon's post-Beatles career. Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, who compiled the box set, said last year, "John was always trying to give the best to the world, and there was a certain kind of sonic intensity in his work and his life."