Here's another shot of the very early Beatles in their jeans and leather jackets. From left to right: George Harrison, Pete Best, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon. Is Pete singing a lead here, or does their rather relaxed stance suggest that they are playing an instrumental?
As an attempt to repair yesterday's Gene Vincent gaff, I thought I'd throw in another post today, featuring some of the instrumental tunes the Hamburg-era Beatles probably included in their nightly sets. Quite a few tunes to be sure.
Perhaps most famous is the Harrison-Lennon composition Cry for a Shadow, otherwise known as Beatle Bop. This was a parody of several then-popular tunes by the instrumental combo (and Cliff Richard's backing group) The Shadows, which was thrown rapidly together as a joke to fool Rory Storm. It was later committed to tape in the June 1961 sessions in which the Beatles backed Tony Sheridan during a three-month residency in Hamburg at the Top Ten Club. Another interesting piece, written by the Beatles, is Catswalk, which might very well have appeared in Hamburg-era setlists, though this particular recording is allegedly from a rehearsal at Liverpool's Cavern Club sometime in 1961 or '62.
Another instrumental tune that undoubtedly found its way into the Beatles' stage repertoire in Hamburg was the Bill Justice tune Raunchy from 1957, which apparently was the tune George Harrison first impressed John Lennon with, cementing the former's place in the band. Given the long hours onstage that the Hamburg-era Beatles were responsible for providing music to, especially during their first residency in 1960, they pulled every song they knew from their collective musical hat. It seems highly likely, then, that Raunchy continued to be played by the band at least until they began working hard to find new material before their return to the Reeperbahn in 1961.
Next, the great Duane Eddy enjoyed a stream of instrumental hits during the late 1950s and early 60s, and the young Beatles were certainly familiar with his take on rock and roll. One Duane Eddy song that figured in their early catalog was Ramrod, one of the tunes that was used to audition Pete Best during the summer of 1960, prior to the band's first trip to Hamburg. Another Eddy tune that the Hamburg-era Beatles surely continued to include in their long sets was Movin' n Groovin', an instrumental that was part of the soundtrack of the recent John Lennon bio-pic Nowhere Boy.
Finally, let's finish with a very early Beatles composition, which saw the light of day on the first Anthology CD set back in 1995. It's the spicy Cayenne (featuring Stu Sutcliffe on bass and no drums), of course, which was written, as Paul McCartney once explained, because he and John thought they had better knock out an instrumental tune of their own given the popularity of rock & roll instrumentals at the time. Once again, when the inexperienced Beatles arrived in Hamburg in mid-August 1960 to begin their residency at the Indra Club, and discovered that they lacked enough material to fill several hours of stage time, I'd be willing to bet that they pulled this tune out and played it a few times since they regarded repeating songs as amateurish. After all, they desperately wanted to come across as professional and polished even at this very early stage in their career.
Without a doubt, there are other instrumental tunes out their that the Hamburg-era Beatles played onstage from time to time, but these featured numbers come most readily to mind. Enjoy listening to them!