During the Quarry Men days Paul McCartney had written a jazz-style instrumental titled ‘Catswalk’, which was never properly recorded by The Beatles.
It was written circa 1959, and was among a list of song titles drawn up the following year by Stuart Sutcliffe for consideration on their first trip to Hamburg.
A Beatles rehearsal from December 1962 was recorded at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, most likely to demo possible songs to record for EMI, and to show publisher Dick James their repertoire of original compositions. Among the tunes was ‘Catswalk’, which at the time McCartney hoped that guitarist Bert Weedon might record.
By then the tune had been recorded and released by another act. McCartney knew band leader Chris Barber, who played trombone with his trad jazz group, The Chris Barber Band, and in 1967 offered him the ‘Catswalk’. The band recorded a version at London’s Marquee Club in July 1967, but McCartney felt it could be done better.
The session took place on 20 July 1967 at Chappell Recording Studios at 52 Maddox Street, London. Retitled ‘Catcall’, the tune was given an over-the-top arrangement complete with a chorus of catcalls: McCartney and Jane Asher were among the people taking part in what was evidently a fun session.
McCartney can also be heard calling “Please play it slower” before the half-speed coda, and singing the chorus of “For he’s a jolly good fellow”. He is likely to have also played organ on the recording.
‘Catcall’ was released as a single in the UK on 20 October 1967, with McCartney given a composer credit. Despite its impeccable pedigree, it failed to chart.