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George Harrison 1970 Apple Jam label

Apple Jam is the third LP (often described as a "bonus" disc) included in English rock musician George Harrison's 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. It consists of four instrumental jams, three of which were recorded during the album sessions, and "It's Johnny's Birthday", a 30th birthday tribute to John Lennon. The disc was Apple Records' way of placating record buyers for the high retail price of All Things Must Pass, which was one of the first triple albums in rock history. It was given a dedicated design by Tom Wilkes, with a logo depicting a jam jar and apple leaves.

Two of the jams date from a 18 June 1970 session that marked the official formation of Eric Clapton's band Derek and the Dominos as recording artists. Augmented by Harrison and guitarist Dave Mason, and produced by Phil Spector, the group recorded songs intended for their debut single that same day. Other tracks on Apple Jam include musical contributions from Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Ginger Baker, Gary Wright and Bobby Keys. Music critics have traditionally viewed the jams as dispensable next to the two LPs of songs. Some writers nevertheless recognise the disc's historical importance as a document of Derek and the Dominos' first recording session.

Background[]

According to bassist Klaus Voormann, a friend of the Beatles since their years in Hamburg and one of many musicians who played on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album, jamming was commonplace during the sessions and indicative of the free spirit that characterised the project. Aside from giving Harrison the opportunity to record several songs of his that had been overlooked for inclusion on the Beatles' releases, the album allowed him to include longer instrumental breaks than was typically the case in his former band's work; he also welcomed the chance to record with the musicians he had met while a guest on Delaney & Bonnie and Friends' European tour in December 1969. Harrison recalled that early in the All Things Must Pass sessions, he and his fellow musicians would improvise on an idea and then ask to hear the jam played back, only to discover that the engineer had failed to capture the performance on tape. As a result, a stereo tape was left running throughout the subsequent sessions to capture any impromptu recordings, leading to the tracks that appear on Apple Jam.

All Things Must Pass was originally scheduled for release with the catalogue number STBO-639, indicating a two-record set. In a December 2000 interview with Billboard editor Timothy White, Harrison explained the addition of the Apple Jam disc: "For the jams, I didn't want to just throw [them] in the cupboard, and yet at the same time it wasn't part of the record; that's why I put it on a separate label to go in the package as a kind of bonus." He said he came to appreciate the quality of the jams when mixing the album, especially the "fire" in Eric Clapton's guitar playing. The title of the third disc was a pun combining the idea of a jam session and the Beatles' Apple Studio to create a reference to a fruit preserve.

Musical content[]

Side A[]

"Out of the Blue"[]

"Out of the Blue" opens abruptly, with the musicians already playing a mid-tempo groove. Lasting eleven minutes, the jam is a blues instrumental; in author Simon Leng's description, the improvisation is achieved through guitar riffs and "shifting dynamics" over a single-chord theme. The contributors include Bobby Keys and Jim Price, both of whom began working as the Rolling Stones' horn section around this time. Although Harrison credited Clapton as the second guitarist on the track, the part was played by Voormann. According to Voormann, "He thought it was Eric, because I was playing a little thing like Eric." The other musicians were keyboard players Bobby Whitlock and Gary Wright, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon. Originally 20 minutes in length and referred to in Harrison's notes as "Jam (3)", it was recorded at EMI Studios on 2 July 1970, the penultimate day of full band sessions for All Things Must Pass.

Leng compares "Out of the Blue" to the extended jams typical of the San Francisco scene and comments that many of those bands would have issued it as a genuine album track. Beatles historian Bruce Spizer highlights Harrison's guitar playing, the "rollicking" piano, and Keys' saxophone contribution, which he likens to the "jam ending" on the Rolling Stones' 1971 track "Can't You Hear Me Knocking". The musician credits also list journalist Al Aronowitz, who was in London to write a piece about the All Things Must Pass sessions for the New York Post. According to Spizer, Aronowitz most likely played percussion.

"It's Johnny's Birthday"[]

"It's Johnny's Birthday" is a 49-second track sung to the tune of Cliff Richard's 1968 hit "Congratulations" and delivered in a style that author Ian Inglis terms "music hall sing-along". Harrison recorded it for John Lennon's 30th birthday, after Yoko Ono, Lennon's wife, had requested a musical gift from him, Donovan and Janis Joplin to mark the occasion. Recording took place at EMI Studios on 7 October as Harrison was carrying out final mixing on All Things Must Pass.

The track features Harrison on vocals and all instruments – a carnival-style organ and two tracks of acoustic slide guitar – along with vocal contributions from Beatles aide Mal Evans and assistant engineer Eddie Klein. Harrison treated the recording with varispeed for comic effect. He presented Lennon with a tape of the song at EMI on 9 October, when Lennon was recording his song "Remember" in one of the studios there, with Voormann and Ringo Starr.

"Plug Me In"[]

"Plug Me In" is a hard rock track with Harrison, Clapton and Dave Mason each taking guitar solos. It was taped on 18 June, a session that marked the recording debut of Clapton, Whitlock, Radle and Gordon's short-lived band Derek and the Dominos, which had come together to help Harrison record his album. Harrison also contributed on guitar to both sides of the band's debut single, "Tell the Truth" and "Roll It Over", which were produced by Phil Spector during the same session. Whitlock recalls "Plug Me In" as an early example of him playing piano, the style of which he credits to Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, as well as a rare contribution from Mason during the All Things Must Pass sessions.

Although acknowledging that the location for the 18 June 1970 recording has been given as Apple Studio, the compilers of the 2021 Archival Notes book for the album list EMI's Studio 3, based on the recollection of EMI recording engineer Phil McDonald.

Side B[]

"I Remember Jeep"[]

The title for "I Remember Jeep" originated from the name of Clapton's dog, a Weimaraner named Jeep who had recently gone missing. The line-up on the eight-minute track was Clapton and Harrison on electric guitars, Billy Preston on piano, Voormann on bass and Ginger Baker, Clapton's former bandmate in Cream, on drums. Harrison also added effects on Moog synthesizer. Inglis comments on the jam's similarity to Cream's songs, describing it as a "musically sophisticated fusion of jazz/blues tempos within a contemporary rock format". The main session took place at Olympic Sound Studios on 29 March 1969, shortly before Harrison started production on Preston's first Apple Records album, That's the Way God Planned It. On 12 May that year – at which point the track was titled "Jam Peace" – Harrison, Lennon and Ono overdubbed handclaps at EMI Studios, and Harrison added the Moog part live as the final mix was being done.

"Thanks for the Pepperoni"[]

The title for "Thanks for the Pepperoni" came from a line on a Lenny Bruce comedy album. The track is a six-minute jam in the style of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven". Recorded at the same session as "Plug Me In", it again includes guitar solos by Harrison, Clapton and Mason. Leng comments on Harrison's soloing being "uncannily" similar to Clapton's style, saying that Harrison leads for most of the track, which includes his "hottest licks" since the Beatles' "The End". According to Leng, the sequence of guitar solos is: Harrison up to the 1:30 mark; Mason, 1:40–3:00; Harrison, 3:00–3:17; Clapton, 3:18–4:46; Harrison, 4:47–5:52.

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