I have never been a particularly massive fan of The Beatles. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like that one off ‘Revolver’ that goes backwards and the other one about dragging a comb and catching a bus. But otherwise I can’t say they have played a particularly substantial role in my life up until now. But all that has changed! Because, gentle reader, I have finally hit the jackpot. My latest crate-digging mission in the flotsam and jetsam of recorded media culminated in the discovery of this miraculous item sitting sleeveless and forlorn in a Notting Hill charity shop; and fame and fortune could do nought but follow:
As you can see it’s a 7″ single of breakthrough Beatles hit ‘Love Me Do’, with the slightly lesser known ‘PS I Love You’ on the flip (obviously you can’t actually see that bit, but I’m assuming a little preliminary knowledge here). You may also have noticed, however, this is not just any old single. It’s a Test pressing! In STEREO, no less! Were my eyes deceiving me? How was this even possible? My already mounting excitement then took another giant leap forward after discovering a webpage discussing the top five selling vinyl releases on ebay, which claimed that a Parlophone demo of ‘Love Me Do’ with sleeve sold in October last year for a whopping $17,334.20. Despite the fact that the similarities between a demo and test pressing are somewhat blurred, and that this record didn’t come with a sleeve at all, I quickly realised that any record collector or Beatles fan worth their salt would pay through a succession of noses to get even a sniff of this treasure; and that I would comfortably be able to retire on the profits, perhaps building that little place in the country I’ve always promised myself; filling it with tape machines while engaging a kindly old butler to finally help me catalogue my BBC sound effects collection (and also make toast). All this for an outlay of fifty pence. Not bad at all.
And yet as I admired the view from my freshly-purchased ivory tower, I spared a moment of pity for the poor sap who forsook all of this splendour by foolishly donating this highly covetable rarity to a charity shop only two doors down from Notting Hill’s Music And Video Exchange, possibly the most famous second-hand vinyl emporium in the whole of London. The poor man (and it’s always a man) could never have known what he had. So close to finding a profitable home for this treasure. And yet so far!
I must say my associates have been less enthusiastic about it all. There have been those who, no-doubt motivated by jealously, expressed frank doubts as to whether this was as genuine an article as my brief, sweeping glance had confirmed. Such nay-sayers are quick to point out that there is clearly an actual proper printed black label visible under the hastily glued-on white one. They go on to observe that the catalogue number ‘Parlophone 5148’ was actually a 7″ single by The Roulettes, entitled ‘I’ll Remember Tonight’, released two years later. And that an ‘actual’ stereo version of ‘Love Me Do’ didn’t even exist until 2009. And the fact that there is clearly a third track cut into the B-side. A ‘PPS I Still Love You’, perhaps?
‘Furthermore’, continued my so-called well-wishers as the butler politely-but-firmly attempted to show them the door, ‘What does the fact that you bought it for 50p in a charity shop lying in the very shadow of The Music And Video Exchange tell you? A little reading between the lines suggests that some pathetic attempt at espionage was afoot, but the staff at MVE quickly spotted it and laughed them out of the shop! You’re a fool, Robin The Fog!’
Dreadful people. But I must confess, as the drawbridge closed behind them, my natural scepticism did start to creep back. It’s true that it’s a little unlikely anyone would be so unaware of the 60s supergroup as to sling out their rare promotional material in the same way they would dispose of, say, Johnny Mathis or Russ Abbott LPs. But all doubts evaporated once I gingerly placed my needle into it’s astonishingly valuable grooves. Here’s what I heard:
That’s enough, we don’t want to wear it out. But I think you’ll agree it’s the Beatles alright. That’s definitely McCartney on the piano. This must be some incredibly scarce early demo of ‘Love Me Do’ perhaps created before their manager Brian Epstein convinced them to radically overhaul the song and add lyrics, guitar, bass and drums. Plus Ringo on the tambourine. It’s even rarer than I thought! And what a fascinating insight into the early days of one of our greatest bands as they explored their light-classical, easy-listening roots! Appalling inept forgery? I think not, I know what side my bread’s buttered. Even if I now have a Butler for that…
My asking price is £1,000,000. I can be contacted at the usual address. Please form an orderly queue.