A LOOK BACK: THE LENNON AND MCCARTNEY SESSIONS - TOOT & A SNORE IN '74
By Bob Wilson
On March 28th, 1974, Paul McCartney had traveled to Los Angeles to pay a visit to John Lennon, and they jammed in the studio. Lennon was estranged from his wife Yoko Ono, and was engaged in his 'Lost Weekend.' This consisted of Lennon beginning a relationship with May Pang with the blessing of Yoko, and indulging in drug and alcohol abuse in the California sun. Lennon was producing Harry Nilsson's album Pussy Cats, which Ringo was playing drums for.
McCartney would try and woo Lennon into eventually working with him on what would become the album Venus And Mars by Wings. Lennon would be as close to agreeing to a Beatle reunion as they ever would get. Playing 'Venus And Mars' today, it is easy to envision it having become a Beatle concept album. The reunion that would occur, however, would be John returning to Yoko after Paul carried the message to his ex-mate that his wife was open to a reconcilliation. The Beatles reunion talk would float for a bit, but sadly never materialize.
The "Toot And A Snore" bootleg records the session for posterity, but it goes nowhere (man). Lennon sang and played guitar, as McCartney played on Ringo's drum kit. Stevie Wonder, Harry Nilsson, Bobby Keys, Jesse Ed Davis, and friends played some loose standards and jams. Song fragments include "Stand by Me", "Lucille", "Chain Gang", and "Take This Hammer." Aside from the two Beatles playing together in the studio for the only known time after their break-up, nothing about the session is noteworthy.
The most overlooked Beatle solo record is 1973's Ringo. The record features all 4 Beatles, with 3 playing together at a time on some tracks, produced by Richard Perry. John contributed the song "I'm The Greatest", Paul offered "Six O'Clock", and George penned "Sunshine Life For Me". The hits "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen" were notable tunes that you could say were truly done by The Threetles. The record shows that when the Lads entered the studio in 1973, they still had the ability to churn out wonderful music, and could recreate their harmonies at will.
Some have listened to the informal "Toot And A Snore In '74" tracks, and wondered if a reunion being avoided helped to preserve the Beatle myth. Ringo shows that such worries were unfounded, and that even three post-Beatles together at once were better than whole units of other bands in their prime. If you yearn to hear what the Beatles would have sounded like if they got back together, Ringo is the the first place to turn. Toot And A Snore is for completists, and the reunion songs on Anthology sound somewhat contrived by comparison. Give a listen, and see that the combined magic of the Lads had not lost its luster as late as three years after their break-up.
Here is an outtake from the session. At the beginning you can hear Lennon ask Stevie Wonder if he "wants a toot? It's going 'round.":
Ringo Starr "I'm The Greatest":