8/24/09

Obscure Grooves #1: "In The First Place" by The Remo Four

In 1967, director Joe Massot went looking for a band to compose the soundtrack to his new film Wonderwall, starring Jane Birkin. The Bee Gees and Graham Nash wanted the opportunity, but fate put Massot at the grand opening of the Beatles' Apple Boutique where he found just the man for the job - George Harrison.

George was the only Beatle at this point who hadn't worked independently on a film. Paul had scored Haley Mills' The Family Way, John had acted in How I Won the War, and Ringo was appearing in both Candy and The Magic Christian. Naturally, George was very receptive to Massot's request.

George commissioned a band called The Remo Four to be his studio musicians. Sadly enough, the band was on the verge of breaking up and had been dropped by two labels. However, they were known as good studio musicians, were managed by Brian Epstein, and one member, Colin Manley, was a former schoolmate of Paul McCartney at the Liverpool Institute for Boys. The group fit the bill perfectly. Eric Clapton was also called in to augment the group, although his work on the album is uncredited.

The movie premiered on November 1, 1968. It was an incredibly stylized, surreal psychedelic work and never gained much mass appeal - it was never released in the States either. George's soundtrack was purely instrumental and contained heavy Indian influences. It was the first release on the newly formed Apple label, and the first official solo album by a Beatle; but, wasn't much of a commercial success. It wasn't long before both the movie and its soundtrack were completely forgotten.

Thirty years later, Massot took a look at the old Wonderwall tapes and discovered that there was a beautiful piece of psychedelic pop called "In the First Place" that had not been included in the film score, since it contained vocals! Massot quickly contacted George Harrison to get the OK to include it on the re-release of Wonderwall. George agreed, but only on the condition that The Remo Four be given credit.



What a great find this is. "In the First Place" sounds like it would fit in perfectly with the rest of the tracks on the Magical Mystery Tour LP. If you like "Blue Jay Way", "Only a Northern Song", "It's All Too Much" and "Within and Without You", this may be right up your alley. I, for one, am thankful Massot rescued this near perfected psychedelic gem.

Source: The Story of "In the First Place" by Martin Lewis

3 comments:

  1. I have seen this film. I used to own the vinyl on the Apple label, two different discs I picked up in used record stores. I have it now on MP3 from a BT download, but as you have often argued there is some magic missing. Seeing that Apple label on this strange piece of music is part of the treat. I did not know much trivia behind the album and also did not readily recall that McCartney scored The Family Way, a film I recently downloaded to my hard drive. I love British cinema from that period.

    Trying to buffer the piece now and hopefully I can snag the tune with a Mozilla plugin I have.

    Bill :)

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Bill. I love the Beatles' psychedelic phase from Revolver to Magical Mystery Tour. Wonderwall was the first disc to have an apple on it, so for that alone it's noteworthy.

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