The Beatles recorded a version of ‘Kansas City’ in 1964 for Beatles For Sale. Two decades later Paul McCartney recorded a solo version.
It was taped on 20 July 1987 at McCartney’s Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex, England, along with the bulk of the Choba B CCCP album: ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, ‘I’m In Love Again’, ‘Bring It On Home To Me’, ‘Lucille’, ‘I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday’, ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’, ‘Summertime’, ‘Just Because’, ‘Midnight Special’, and an additional cover of ‘It’s Now Or Never’.
‘Kansas City’ was written in 1952 by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It was first recorded that year by Little Willie Littlefield, and became a chart-topper for Wilbert Harrison in 1959.
Little Richard recorded two versions of the song in 1955. The first remained unreleased until 1970, and the second – a new arrangement which included a “Hey, hey, hey, hey” section – was issued in 1958.
That additional section was recorded by Richard in 1956 as ‘Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey’. It was released in January 1958 as the b-side of ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’.
The Beatles learnt the song from Richard’s second recording, and are known to have performed ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey’ from 1960. They recorded it in a single take for Beatles For Sale on 18 October 1964.
McCartney’s solo recording of ‘Kansas City’ was, along with ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’, and ‘Midnight Special’, one of several golden oldies released on the ‘Once Upon A Long Ago’ 12″ and CD singles in 1987.
It then became the opening track on Choba B CCCP, released in the Soviet Union in 1988 and worldwide three years later.
I could do Little Richard’s voice, which is a wild, hoarse, screaming thing; it’s like an out-of-body experience. You have to leave your current sensibilities and go about a foot above your head to sing it. You have to actually go outside yourself. It’s a funny little trick and when you find it, it’s very interesting.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
A live version of ‘Kansas City’ was released on McCartney’s 1993 album Paul Is Live.