Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Carnival of Light" May See Light

Word is Paul McCartney is thinking of issuing a track considered the Holy Grail of unreleased Beatles tracks.

According to various reports, Sir Paul is mulling over releasing a 14-minute piece of improvisation called “Carnival of Light,” which the Beatles recorded in 1967 during the overdubbing sessions for “Penny Lane.” The actual recording has long been considered a Beatles “myth,” but McCartney confirmed in an interview the recording is real. “It does exist,” he says on a BBC Radio 4 program to be broadcast Thursday.

McCartney told program host John Wilson that he still has a master tape of the song and he suspects that “the time has come for it to get its moment.” “Carnival of Light” was created for The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, an event held at London’s Roundhouse Theatre on Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, 1967.

“I said all I want you to do is just wander around all the stuff, bang it, shout, play it, it doesn't need to make any sense,” McCartney told Wilson about the track's origin. “Hit a drum then wander on to the piano, hit a few notes, just wander around. So that's what we did and then put a bit of an echo on it. It's very free.”

In order for Carnival of Light to be released, McCartney would have to get the agreement of Ringo Starr and the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison. According to the BBC, McCartney had wanted to include the track on The Beatles’ Anthology compilations in the mid-1990s, but the rest of the band vetoed the idea.

I searched around to see what I could find and came up with what is supposed to be a snippet (one minute) of the track. There is absolutely no way I can verify if this is really part of “Carnival of Light” or not. What you’ll hear is plain old-fashioned cacophony. I’ll withhold final judgment until Macca authorizes the full release. But if the whole thing sounds like this, I’m inclined to agree with what McCartney said was the reaction of the other Beatles: “The guys didn't like the idea, like ‘this is rubbish.’”

Carnival of Light (partial).mp3

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