Part of the soundtrack to Peter Blake’s On Collage exhibition at Liverpool’s Tate Gallery, ‘Free Now’ mixed dialogue from Beatles’ original recording sessions with new music recorded by Welsh band Super Furry Animals.

The results were released in 2000 as part of the Liverpool Sound Collage CD, essentially a Paul McCartney project. It also featured snippets from his 1991 classical piece Liverpool Oratorio.

The bit that John finally got, just after that, then we’ll do both of the do what you wanna do, do what you wanna do, do what you wanna do…
George Harrison
‘Free Now’, Liverpool Sound Collage

Super Furry Animals were involved in two tracks on Liverpool Sound Collage: ‘Free Now’ and ‘Peter Blake 2000’. The Furries’ keyboard player Cian Ciaran approached McCartney at the NME awards in London on 1 February 2000, when the group won the Best Live Act award. Ciaran convinced McCartney to let him remix some previously unreleased Beatles recordings.

One minute Cian is dragging Paul McCartney to a table, and within two weeks four boxes of original Beatles master tapes arrived in our office in Cardiff. We sampled chunks of John and Paul chatting, and we made loops of George’s guitar and Ringo’s drums. That was extremely surreal.
Gruff Rhys
Super Furry Animals

In return, McCartney agreed to guest on Super Furry Animals’ 2001 album Rings Around The World. He chewed carrots and celery on their song ‘Receptacle For The Respectable’, in a homage to The Beach Boys’ song ‘Vegetables’.

He claims that was his favourite moment of last year – chewing the celery and carrots to the beat. We just didn’t want him to strain his voice, and we didn’t want him to play bass because he’s done that so many times in his life. He’s probably sick of singing cameo roles.
Gruff Rhys

The main vocals on ‘Free Now’ were from take 9 of the song ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, recorded on 1 February 1967. This was the basis of the album version, without the final vocals and overdubs. McCartney vamps the words at the end, which was eventually replaced with the “Billy Shears” intro of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’. The original take nine was released on the 50th anniversary reissue of Sgt Pepper in May 2017.

I feel it, I feel it, I feel it, Oh baby, now
I get it, I get it, I get it
Baby, free now, gotta be free now
Baby, free now, gotta be free now
Paul McCartney
‘Free Now’, Liverpool Sound Collage

Other samples on ‘Free Now’ were from the session for ‘Think For Yourself’, on 8 November 1965. Prior to recording take one of the song, George Martin taped the group’s rehearsal and dialogue in the hope that some of the material may have been suitable for their 1965 Christmas fan club single.

‘Free Now’ begins with a sample of speech by Harrison, then centres on the title phrase sang by McCartney. A brief sample from the ending of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ can also be heard in places, most notably between 1’29” and 1’33”.

‘Free Now’ is the briefest and most accessible of the five tracks on Liverpool Sound Collage. While none are comparable to The Beatles’ core output (there is little tunefulness, although none are as chaotic as ‘Revolution 9’), it is an intriguing experiment in electronica which confirms McCartney’s reputation as a restless experimenter.

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