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Have You Heard The Word
September 10, 2013 10:58 PM   Subscribe

“Have You Heard The Word” used to appear—frequently—on Beatles bootlegs as a ‘long lost’ Beatles recording. In fact the song was recorded by Bee Gees singer Maurice Gibb, who, along with some Aussie mates, gathered round the studio mics and recorded, apparently, a single take of the song, featuring Gibb's rather convincing John Lennon impersonation.
posted by flapjax at midnite (32 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Super cool!

Just goes to show a fantastic fake is often better than the genuine article.
posted by dontjumplarry at 11:39 PM on September 10, 2013


That is a good impression, but not nearly so good a song as the real The Word, by The (actual) Beatles.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:44 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


A long long time ago I bought a Trademark of Quality Beatles bootleg that had among many other things "Cheese and Onions" by the Rutles on it, presented as a Beatles rarity. Neil Innes's Lennon impression was pretty great, too. I suspect a lot of people can copy that distinctive voice quite well. I can do it myself, not well enough to fool a child but enough so that people know who I'm doing.
posted by Fnarf at 1:10 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd heard this before, but I think it was a longer version with a lot of drunken rambling at the end. I seem to recall the song bogging down in a whole lot of Liverpudlian chatter about hearing the word. "So, 'ave you heard the word, then?" "I have indeed." "How about you, then? 'Ave YOU heard the word?" "I have."

The detail about Lennon and McCartney (maybe) being there makes an interesting story even more intriguing. Could that have been John Lennon himself as the backup singer?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:26 AM on September 11, 2013


Wow, that's a bit startling - in a good way.

This might be excessively personal, hopefully not a derail but The Bee Gees are associated in my mind with a transitional time in music where the market became divided into different segments. It wasn't always that way. In the late sixties and early seventies my mom would push the buttons on the AM radio in her Volkswagen Beetle and all the radios were playing all the songs. It was only later with the advent of FM radio that music once again became divided [as it had been before]. Stoner, Metal, Disco, Prog and Album with a little bit of Theme from The Rockford Files too. This was during puberty so it was a time when my musical tastes were informed by the tastes of my very tiny local cohort. Kiss first led to Led Zep and Pink Floyd and later Rush and then The Talking Heads.

I wish now I had never made fun of the Bee Gees or worn my "Disco Sucks" tee shirt. I missed years of enjoying some great music by listening to my need to be accepted rather than listening with my ears.
posted by vapidave at 3:35 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not terribly convincing, in my opinion. Certainly not deserving of mention alongside, for instance, Cheese And Onions.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:39 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just goes to show a fantastic fake is often better than the genuine article.

For certain values of "genuine article." I don't count "Free As a Bird" as a Beatles song any more than I would if Paul and Ringo gave the same treatment to, say, an unreleased Elvis session outtake.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:40 AM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are plenty of Beatles songs that were written-and-or-recorded entirely by so-and-so, without any communication with so-and-so, because they didn't like each other that day or whatever. If Free As A Bird isn't a legit Beatles song, then neither is about half of the White Album.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:02 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


It isn't often my mind is blown by Bee Gees trivia. Because I really hate the Bee Gees' music (and pretty much all disco).

But here we are.

Flapjax at midnite made me, voluntarily, hunt down a Bee Gees-related song to listen to in my life.

I found this comment in YouTube: Here's the truth about this song. It was an official release in England by The Fut on Beacon Records. I had purchased a copy of this on E Bay from someone that went to a Bee Gee convention. He sent me pictures of this event with my purchase. He had the chance to talk with Maurice Gibb, and Maurice claims that the only Beatle on this record is Paul McCartney. That's the Word that I can share with everyone on Have You Heard The Word by The Fut.
posted by Mezentian at 5:18 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's me, or maybe it's the fact that the post began with the note that it was fake, but the first thing I thought was "George Martin or Geoff Emerick or whoever would never have allowed that sort of mike placement . . ."

Then that high, waily Bee Gees falsetto shows up in the background and gives it away. Besides a true bootleg with John being completely drunk would have included more snorts and burps.

I remember hearing something about Julian Lennon sitting in the studio for hours trying to get his voice to sound exactly the same . .

(and another vote for Neil Innes' songs instead)
posted by petebest at 6:50 AM on September 11, 2013


I'm not at all happy with the flash card section!
posted by hal9k at 7:20 AM on September 11, 2013


Because I really hate the Bee Gees' music (and pretty much all disco)

I really need to chime in here and say that the Bee Gees made some amazing (not disco music) at the beginning of their career. You might be familiar with the song Massachusetts, but that's only a hint at the great chamber pop / psych they were churning out in the ’60s. I mean they released a "Best of" album in freakin 1969.

Bee Gees' 1st, Horizontal, and Odessa are three great albums to start with. If you like The Beatles, but "hate the Bee Gees," check out songs like Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You or In My Own Time from Bee Gees' 1st.

Early Bee Gees albums are one of those things that I wished I knew about when I was much younger. I only discovered this stuff a few years back, and I gotta say, it straight up rules if you like Beatlesque pop.
posted by degoao at 7:24 AM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


> Because I really hate the Bee Gees' music (and pretty much all disco).

They didn't start out disco. Their first album might as well have been called WE ARE THE AUSTRALIAN BEATLES AND WE'RE GOOD! And they were.

Then, disco. I was sad. It was like a group I had high hopes for had decided to ride the Oregon trail in a covered wagon and died of dysentery.
posted by jfuller at 7:31 AM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Another long lost "Beatles' recording which appeared on bootlegs was the L S Bumblebee by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
posted by Rash at 8:50 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Because I really hate the Bee Gees' music (and pretty much all disco).

They didn't start out disco. Their first album might as well have been called WE ARE THE AUSTRALIAN BEATLES AND WE'RE GOOD! And they were.

The Bee Gees first album release was in 1965. (Those teefs!)

They had a greatest hits collection out in 1969. On the most generous reading, that's at least three or four years before any recognisable "disco" records were out by anyone.

Consider these well-known (in the US) Bee Gees songs:
o "New York Mining Disaster 1941" (1967) (aka "Have You Seen My Wife, Mr. Jones?")
o "To Love Somebody" (1967)
o "Massachusetts" (1967)
o "Lonely Days" (1970)
o "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (1970)

These may not be to your taste, but they are not disco records.
posted by Herodios at 8:51 AM on September 11, 2013


> The Bee Gees first album release was in 1965.

*cof cof* sorry, US-centric. The first BGs album that made it to where I am and got notice from a critic I liked (Peter Winkler in the long-vanished CREEM.)
posted by jfuller at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2013


Since I was a kid I've known the Bee Gees had a long career before the disco days, but I didn’t realize how long until I read an article that pointed out that Main Course was their 13th (or so) album, and "Nights on Broadway" from that album the first time they used the trademark falsetto.

Do not dis the Bee Gees.
posted by bongo_x at 9:49 AM on September 11, 2013


No dis at all from here for their "Massachusetts"-era stuff. Just an observation, they seem to have been as mutable early on as Spinal Tap (before finally fetching up on a style that payed big, so they never had to "milk it a few more years in Japan.")
posted by jfuller at 10:01 AM on September 11, 2013


Disco was the worst thing to happen to the Bee Gees. The genre suffered as much as the band did.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:05 AM on September 11, 2013


This is fun, but trust a Bee Gee (Oz-transplanted Mancunians all) to get the Liverpool accent wrong. Lennon wouldn't have sung "Have you hurd the wurd", but "Have you hehd the wehd", as any Rubber Soul listener knows.

I'm no Bee Gees fan, but judging them solely by their disco output is a bit like judging the Clash solely on the basis of the Cut The Crap album.
posted by El Brendano at 10:54 AM on September 11, 2013



Yah, could be worse y'know.

Their first international hit Spicks and Specks (1966) was also the first pop song of the rock era to be based on Pachelbel's diabolical Canon in D Major.

It's the hook that brings you back -- on that you can rely.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:21 AM on September 11, 2013


Crowded House's "Not the Girl You Think You Are" is a better fake Beatles song. Sounds like a White Album outtake.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:23 AM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not at all happy with the flash card section!

Goo goo ga joob, sir.


And when the Beatles tell you
They've got a word, love, to sell you
They mean exactly what they sa-a-a-ay
 
posted by Herodios at 11:28 AM on September 11, 2013


There are plenty of Beatles songs that were written-and-or-recorded entirely by so-and-so, without any communication with so-and-so, because they didn't like each other that day or whatever. If Free As A Bird isn't a legit Beatles song, then neither is about half of the White Album.

Except that when John recorded the song, he hadn't been a Beatle for about as long as the Beatles had previously existed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:53 PM on September 11, 2013


Bee Gees are kinda like Fleetwood Mac in that they were effectively a couple different bands through the ages (see Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight vs like Rhiannon or something.) Despite knowing about their 60's stuff though I kinda hated the Bee Gees for a long time because, jr. high dances I guess.

That all changed for me in a moment one day though while watching, believe it or not, Beavis and Butthead. They're right- that song *does* rock.
posted by hap_hazard at 2:59 PM on September 11, 2013


When I was a moon-eyed girl crushing on Jimmy Jack one week and Billy Bob the next To Love Somebody was my anthem on 45 rpm. Later on I fell in love with Lonely Days which then and now strikes me as a crafty Beatles parody. This post made me go listen to it again. When he gets to the last part where he is shout-singing and everyone is getting all down, well, I just want that part to last forever.
posted by maggieb at 4:13 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


^ Butthead twerks at 00:26.
posted by maggieb at 4:20 PM on September 11, 2013


OOh, yeah, To Love Somebody is brilliant. And Lonely Days too- this clip is great, although one of the commenters is right, it does look oddly like a Mercedes commercial.

Butthead twerks at 00:26.

huh-huh-huh, so he does! Still corrupting the youts after all these years!
posted by hap_hazard at 4:46 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. They're even more pissed than the Argyles were when they did Alley Oop. Still not Burdon pissed though.
posted by Twang at 11:08 PM on September 11, 2013


Crowded House's "Not the Girl You Think You Are" is a better fake Beatles song.

Thank you so much for that link. I don't know Crowded House too well, and I'd never heard that song before. It was so pretty it actually made me mist up a bit. Like, you know when Aimee Mann is really on, and she writes a song that feels like she's sitting on the couch with you and gently but insistently telling you something terribly sad that you really need to hear? (Like, the parts of Magnolia that scarred you for life?) This hit me like that. Holy crap, what a beautiful, heartbreaking song. Between this and Don't Dream It's Over (which I always loved,) this is a band I have got to pay a little more attention to.

As for Free as a Bird... you know, somehow I have the feeling that Lennon wouldn't have minded much. As scrappy and difficult as he was, and as much as they drove each other insane, he clearly loved the other Beatles. It was love that sometimes turned to hate, but it was love. I always had the feeling that that song was done out of a sincere if arguably misguided desire to bring the band together one last time. Lennon was famously harsh regarding McCartney's sentimental streak, but in this case, I like to think he would've been touched by the gesture. The surviving Beatles were aging fast, and it was kind of like they got together for one last family reunion, with a place set at the table for the brother who died a long time ago.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:49 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thank you so much for that link. I don't know Crowded House too well... Between this and Don't Dream It's Over (which I always loved,) this is a band I have got to pay a little more attention to.

If you haven't: it is well worth paying attention to Crowded House (Mark I), and if you like that, anything by the Finn Brothers. Also, Split Enz. I cannot recommend Split Enz enough.

And then the completely unrelated Hunters & Collectors and/or Midnight Oil.

But Don't Dream It's Over is something of a highpoint. "Throw Your Arms Around Me" is a must listen if you have never heard it (I prefer "The Slab"). And I am just going to assume you are mot a monster and know of The Church.
posted by Mezentian at 6:48 AM on September 13, 2013


hap_hazard "I kinda hated the Bee Gees for a long time because, jr. high dances I guess." My mile away neighbor when I lived in Monroe WA which used to be in the country, Raymond Porter, goaded me into inviting Sue Guptill and and Jackie Neams to the dance. His mother drove. Sue and Jackie were very nice and likely as terrified as I was. We went for pizza after the dance, everyone was there. Chuck Doan got in a fight in the parking lot with one of the Skinner boys and came in with a bloody nose. [I'm not making this up].

When it came time to bring each girl home you were supposed to walk her to the door and then maybe a kiss. This was traumatic. I liked girls and was attracted to girls [not that this matters] but the pressure was terrifying.

School sponsored dances are a sort of pressure that no one should ever have to endure and I think they ruin dancing.

To this day I can't hear the opening whistle from "Jungle Love" without being taken back to that awkward time.
posted by vapidave at 7:06 AM on September 13, 2013


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