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"Back In The U.S.S.R."

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The Beatles "White Album" with Russian cover

No comrade could resist the new Битлз album
The jet-engine intro (and the sick bag) had maybe been inspired by Paul's return flight from Delhi, but it's a BOAC from Miami to Moscow that we're on board here, to get "Back In The U.S.S.R."

It had been quite a while since the band had played some good, old fashioned, unadorned rock 'n' roll, but they certainly blew the dust out of the amps with this one: a roistering opening to the The White Album!

Soviet Agent Kartneykov returns to his homeland after an extended expatriate mission, sort of inspired by Chuck Berry's "Back In The USA" (with a neat little twist on Ray Charles' "Georgia", to boot); having goofed on Elvis, and with his ongoing Beach Boys obsession also very evident. And, like any self-respecting sixties spy — or rock star, for that matter — it's a little female company that's the first thing on his mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mind.

The Beatles arriving in London with BOAC bags and Jimmy Nicol
Of course, first tracks on records are rarely the first to be recorded, and by the time they got round to this one, the tensions which marked the sessions for The White had reached the point where Ringo had temporarily defected. Perhaps prophetically, Starkovski had also been absent for the acoustic test-flight (Ob-La-Di-USSR?!!) during The Esher Sessions.

No matter: Paul duly handed his Hofner to George, in order to lay down the drum part himself. Not to be outdone, John promptly cadged the shiny new six-string bass which was propped up in the corner.

The three comrades subsequently shared out the guitar parts between them: though McKremlin kept state control of the piano. Attempts on the drumkit by Ivan and Gorgi were similarly suppressed by the party leader, though allegedly remain semi-audible in the final mix. The resultant cocktail proved to be nothing short of Molotov!

Its popularity maintained by inclusion on The Blue, the song was issued as a 45 nearly a decade later, heralding the launch of the Singles Box Set: b/w "Yesterday", highlighting Mr McCartney's distinct writing and singing styles. And, even after the corrosion of the Iron Curtain, it was re-infiltrated into his Back In... live shows: including a Red Square demonstration.

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