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"Mr Moonlight"

Categories: Beatles songs

Beatles "Mr Moonlight" Japanese single picture sleeve on Apple Records

"Misutaa Muunraito" was released as a single in Japan on Apple Records (apparently not related to the Beatles' own Apple label).
Beyond a moonbeam of a doubt, "Mr Moonlight" is the weirdest cover on the Beatles For Sale album. Indeed, it may even qualify as the most bizarre song in the entire Beatles canon — "Mary Jane" and "You Know My Name" included. You either love it or you hate it, or you can never quite decide — but what you absolutely can't do is ignore it!

Originally recorded in 1962 by Willie Perryman, aka Piano Red, aka Dr Feelgood, it had been part of The Beatles' live act ever since, as demonstrated by its inclusion on the Live! At The Star Club set from the same year. The treacherous vocal is lifted pretty much directly from it, in contrast to The Hollies' bouncy bubblegum rendition, released almost simultaneously with For Sale.

Lennon's voice is quite extraordinary in his tackling of it: he don't sound like this on anything else he ever sung, I don't think. Touching the boundaries of his range, the first, aborted Anthology take bears witness to the scale of the challenge. How the hell do you describe that yodelling intro? Kinda Otis goes Flamenco at the top of a minaret, perhaps... Then in cuts the shuffling, laid-back rhythm — looking towards "The Dock Of The Bay" — but he simply can't back down from full-throttle for the vocal, not even for the smoother sections. Had to've been a full moon!

Not only John seemed touched by the lunar forces, either. Paul's slightly (deliberately?) schmaltzy Wurlitzer-style Hammond solo, for example, is such a crazy contrast to everything else that's going on that it works absolutely perfectly. I know it was recorded a couple of months after the original take, but I wouldn't mind betting that it was during the same phase of the moon... George patters away merrily on an 'African Drum' to get in on the lunacy alongside Ringo's percussion.

Big full moon and a few fat spliffs while viewing it from the studio roof — no other explanation, man!

Because we love you:
Mr Moonlight!
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