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The Beatles - The Sheik of Araby
6 November 2017
10.49am
GeorgeCB
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Hi All

Bit of a strange question - I know the Beatles covered "The Shiek of Araby" for their Decca aution and presumably played it in Hamburg. What I would like to know is what version of the original are they likely to have heard / been influenced by. I know the song started out as an instrumental in the 1920s and that the first recorded version with proper lyrics was released in 1936 by Don Albert's Band with additional lyrics "With No Pants On". Then there is the 1961 Everley Brother's version - the Everley's had a big influence on the Beatles, so could that have been their inspiration?

Any thoughts?

Thanks

G

6 November 2017
12.58pm
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Ahhh Girl
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From Joe's page on the song:

The group based their arrangement on a Rock 'N' Roll version released by Joe Brown and The Bruvvers in 1961. George Harrison was a big fan of Brown, and sang lead vocals on The Beatles' version.

In those days a lot of the Rock 'N' Roll songs were actually old tunes from the Forties, Fifties or whenever, which people had rocked up. That was the thing to do if you didn't have a tune: just rock up an oldie. Joe Brown had recorded a Rock 'N' Roll version of The Sheik Of Araby. He was really popular on the Saturday TV show Six-Five Special and Oh Boy!. I did the Joe Brown records, so I sang Sheik Of Araby.
George Harrison
Anthology

Does that help answer your question?

The following people thank Ahhh Girl for this post:

Necko, SgtPeppersBulldog
8 November 2017
4.40am
GeorgeCB
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Hi Ahhh Girl

Thanks for that. As I understand it, Joe Brown didn't record The Sheik of Araby until 1963. I'm wondering if they were aware of the song before that, particularly the version by Spike Jones & His City Slickers.

G

8 November 2017
4.56am
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Ron Nasty
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The most likely first version they all knew was Fats Domino's 1958 take on it:

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty

 

The Beatles Non-Canon Poll List

8 November 2017
5.34am
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meanmistermustard
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@Ron Nasty, You've posted 'Blueberry Hill' instead of 'The Sheik of Araby'.

"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris) 

"Don't make your love suffer insecurities; Trade the baggage of self to set another one free" ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)

8 November 2017
8.06am
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Billy Rhythm
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Ahhh Girl said
From Joe's page on the song:

The group based their arrangement on a Rock 'N' Roll version released by Joe Brown and The Bruvvers in 1961. George Harrison was a big fan of Brown, and sang lead vocals on The Beatles' version.

In those days a lot of the Rock 'N' Roll songs were actually old tunes from the Forties, Fifties or whenever, which people had rocked up. That was the thing to do if you didn't have a tune: just rock up an oldie. Joe Brown had recorded a Rock 'N' Roll version of The Sheik Of Araby. He was really popular on the Saturday TV show Six-Five Special and Oh Boy!. I did the Joe Brown records, so I sang Sheik Of Araby.
George Harrison
Anthology

 

I know that the song in question is 'The Sheik of Araby', but I couldn't resist plugging this unreleased gem from the BBC recordings...  Another Joe Brown record that George nails...  It's also the best drumming that I've heard from Pete Best and very possibly could be the last time that he performed with The Beatles...  Easily in the Top 5 of unreleased Beatles' recordings:

 

 

...:-)

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Nahiku
8 November 2017
8.15am
GeorgeCB
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Thanks for that - I suspect that is the version the Beatles were familiar with. However, I agree with Ahhh Girl that they probably based their Decca audtion take on Joe Brown's cover from Six-Five Special /Oh Boy!

As a little project I've been putting together all of the songs covered by the Beatles, juxtaposed by the version they would have been influenced by. This is easy with most of their output - but there are couple that I'm not sure which version they were covering - :

  • "Besme Mucho" Most of the originals were sung in Spanish but I can't find an English language version that the Beatles would have based their cover on (possibly the 1944 Andy Russell version).
  • "September In Rain "  The 1930s & 1940s versions sound too old fashioned for the Beatles even in late 1950s. The 1950s version that are possible contendars are Al Hibbler 1956, Julie London 1956 or Dinah Washington's 1960 version.

Any thoughts?

 

G

8 November 2017
9.20am
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Ahhh Girl
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Oooooo, I can't wait to see your list. A most excellent project!! Have an apple apple01

8 November 2017
12.41pm
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Necko
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GeorgeCB said
Thanks for that - I suspect that is the version the Beatles were familiar with. However, I agree with Ahhh Girl that they probably based their Decca audtion take on Joe Brown's cover from Six-Five Special /Oh Boy!

As a little project I've been putting together all of the songs covered by the Beatles, juxtaposed by the version they would have been influenced by. This is easy with most of their output - but there are couple that I'm not sure which version they were covering - :

    • "Besme Mucho" Most of the originals were sung in Spanish but I can't find an English language version that the Beatles would have based their cover on (possibly the 1944 Andy Russell version).
    • "September In Rain "  The 1930s & 1940s versions sound too old fashioned for the Beatles even in late 1950s. The 1950s version that are possible contendars are Al Hibbler 1956, Julie London 1956 or Dinah Washington's 1960 version.

Any thoughts?

 

G  

 

Do you own the book The Complete Beatles Chronicle by Mark Lewisohn? There is an appendix in the back that does something similar. It focuses exclusively on songs that the Beatles performed live, but it would be a good source if you could buy or borrow a copy.

NOTE: I only own the 2006 reissue, so I can't verify that it's in the original version, but I would be surprised if it wasn't. 

I'm Necko.  I'm like Ringo except I wear necklaces.

I'm also ewe2 on weekends.

Most likely to post things that make you go hmm... 2015, 2016, 2017. 

8 November 2017
1.03pm
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meanmistermustard
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If you search online you'll find PDF copies of 'The Complete Beatles Chronicle' to download.

"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris) 

"Don't make your love suffer insecurities; Trade the baggage of self to set another one free" ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)

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