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The Mystery of the Lost Beatles Track

by David Haber

What happened to the original masters of She Loves You and the subsequent making of Sie Liebt Dich is one of the biggest mysteries in the history and lore of the Beatles. This is my own theory.

The History of She Loves You

She Loves You was recorded at EMI Abbey Road Studio 2 on July 1, 1963. Mono mixing and editing was performed on July 4. Since the original tapes for these sessions no longer exist, all that Mark Lewisohn could say about this session in his book The Beatles Recording Sessions, besides the dates, was:

"Precise details of the recording takes no longer exist, but three reels of tape were filled in putting down She Loves You and its B-side I'll Get You..."

On January 29, 1964, while in France for live performances at the Olympia Theater, the Beatles recorded Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand and Sie Liebt Dich for their German fans at a recording session at EMI Pathe Marconi Studios, Paris. The first takes of Can't Buy Me Love were also recorded during those Paris recording sessions that day.

While it is commonly known that the original rhythm (instrumental backing) track from I Want To Hold Your Hand was used to record Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand, it is also commonly believed that the entire recording of Sie Liebt Dich was done completely from scratch. Quoting again from Lewisohn's Recording Sessions:

"First task was to add Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand vocals to the English rhythm track of I Want To Hold Your Hand, mixed down from four-track to two-track. The 'best' versions were takes 5 and 7, with overdubbed handclaps, edited together later.

"For Sie Liebt Dich, the Beatles recorded a new rhythm track, the 1 July 1963 two-track tape having been scrapped once the mono master was prepared. This was done in 13 takes, onto which they overdubbed, in one take, the vocals in the rhythm left/vocals right pattern of their earlier two-track tapes."

Because the two-track master is missing, She Loves You exists only in mono, as it was never mixed into stereo.

In addition, Allen J. Weiner, in The Beatles Ultimate Recording Guide, agrees:

"Sie Liebt Dich was a completely different recording from She Loves You and included a new instrumental track."

My Revelation

I've always personally accepted the above descriptions of how Sie Liebt Dich was created. Compare the released versions of She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich yourself, they do sound very different from each other:

She Loves You (Swan 45 excerpt)
Sie Liebt Dich (Odeon 45 excerpt)

Although She Loves You only exists in mono, there are stereo versions of Sie Liebt Dich on both the Parlophone and Capitol Rarities albums. These versions sound as Lewisohn describes the final Paris recordings above, rhythm track on the left and German vocals on the right.

When listening to this stereo version of Sie Liebt Dich recently, I thought it might be fun to try and make a fake stereo She Loves You by synching the mono She Loves You on one channel with the rhythm track from the stereo Sie Liebt Dich on the other. (Others have attempted to do this as well, one bootleg actually passed off such a synch job as "the missing stereo version of She Loves You".)

However, when I attempted to do this, I immediately noticed that the two tracks are possibly more than coincidentally the same.

Despite the accepted documentation, I have found strong evidence that the Sie Liebt Dich that was recorded on January 29, 1964 in Paris might be new vocals overdubbed onto the July 1, 1963 She Loves You rhythm track, in the very same way they made Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand.

This means that even though the July 1, 1963 two-track master of She Loves You may now be destroyed or missing, I believe it could have still existed on January 29, 1964 for the making of Sie Liebt Dich.

The Beatles in Paris

Keys To The Puzzle

The key to proving that both tracks have identical origins is to hear them both at the same time. However, it is very hard to successfully play back She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich together and keep them synchronized. I believe this is due to two major factors. These two factors are also very instrumental in understanding why, upon casual listening, the tracks seem to sound so different.

1. Tape Speed

Every release of Sie Liebt Dich is slightly faster than the Parlophone She Loves You. To add to the confusion, the Parlophone release is slightly faster than the American Swan and Capitol releases, which are similar. This makes the difference for American listeners even more acute. (Listen to the comparisons of the Swan She Loves You and the Odeon Sie Liebt Dich above.)

It is possible that the original speed difference is due to differences between the tape decks at Abbey Road where the rhythm track was recorded and those at Pathe Marconi in Paris where Sie Liebt Dich was produced (a difference which was later compounded when the mono mix of She Loves You made its way to America).

A turntable or tape recorder with a vari-speed function or a computer's sound editing program can be used to successfully match the speed of the two versions. When this is done, both versions become perfectly in tune musically with each other. This is an important fact. If they were totally separate recordings, played in the same key but at slightly different tempos, when corrected to match speeds, their musical keys would not match. But this is not the case.

The speed differential between the original Parlophone mix and the German mix may also be at least partially intentional, keep reading.

2. Tape Edits in Mono Mix

We can hear that the mono mix of She Loves You is very heavily edited. Sie Liebt Dich does not appear to be. Listen to this sound clip which contains three examples of edits in She Loves You from the version on the Past Masters 1 CD:

She Loves You (mono mix tape edits)

The first edit in the above soundclip is slightly hard to hear, it takes place in the middle of the guitar after "you know you should be glad", this is approximately 1:15 into the song. The next two are much easier to hear, right before "pride can hurt you too" at 1:22 into the song, and then again right before "because she loves you" at 1:29 into the song.

These edits, and others, are in every release of She Loves You but they are easiest to hear on the Past Masters CD. Steps were taken during the mastering of earlier 45 and LP versions to hide the edits somewhat, this seems not to have been done when Past Masters was released.

The edits throw any synchonization attempts off, as they were done by hand and each physical tape edit possibly includes a tiny bit more of each recording than it should, or a tiny bit less. These slight editing mistakes are not big enough to notice upon casual listening, but are big enough to cause synch attempts to seem to drift in and out of synchronization as the edited version first includes tiny snippets of the original recording where it shouldn't, and then loses tiny bits later that should be there, when compared to the seemingly unedited Sie Liebt Dich.

A Controversial Theory

But why is the mono mix of She Loves You so highly edited, much more than any other early Beatles release? I have a theory as to why this is.

It is documented that at the time She Loves You was recorded, the Beatles were recording on a two-track tape machine. That means the song would have been recorded with the rhythm track on one channel and the voices on the other.

We also know that it took much time, especially in the early years, for George to work out his lead guitar parts, although once he worked out the part, he played very well. This is reason to believe that George's guitar might have been recorded separately from the rhythm track which was done first.

In the two-track days, for that to be accomplished, since both tracks were already taken up, one for the rhythm track and the other for the vocals, it would have been necessary to "mix down" both of these tracks to one track of a new tape, thereby opening up a new free track.

It's possible George Martin opted not to do this for two main reasons. First, a "mix-down" step would mean an additional tape generation, meaning the introduction of a lot of tape noise (hiss). Also, it meant relinquishing the ability to re-mix. Once mixed-down, the levels of the vocals to the rhythm track would be forever set and unchangeable, and it would be impossible, for example, to change something in the vocal without affecting the rhythm track.

Instead, it's possible to believe that George's lead guitar track was simply recorded on a separate tape, to be played back in synch with first two-track tape when making the mix. There is evidence they had done something similar to this earlier, on a smaller scale, with things like John's harmonica on From Me To You and Thank You Girl, where we know the harmonica is not part of the main rhythm track, because of tape evidence of the actual edit pieces, and differences in the mono and stereo mixes of the song.

If George's guitar had to be synched with the main tape when making the mono mix, that could explain why the mono mix is so heavily edited. It was way too difficult to get it all perfectly synchronized in one take, so they edited together all of the best attempts.

In addition, this perhaps explains why there is no stereo mix of She Loves You, because it would have been too hard to do, and there's no way they could do a stereo mix that sounded exactly like the mono one. There is documented evidence that George Martin did something like this again later, issuing I Am The Walrus in fake stereo rather than attempt a true-stereo mix because an effect created during the mono mix (the King Lear voice-over) could not be recreated in the same way.

I admit I have no proof that there was a separate George guitar track, it is only a theory. At the very least, upon the evidence of all the tape edits in the mono mix, the She Loves You master tapes must have been comprised of several separately recorded components which were assembled for the mono mix. This sheds some light on many of the lingering questions in the making of She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich mystery.

Norman Smith, engineer for both She Loves You sessions

Putting It All Together

It's important to remember that all of the documenation we have on the making of both She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich is shaky, at best. Taking a look again at the quote from Lewisohn:

"For Sie Liebt Dich, the Beatles recorded a new rhythm track, the 1 July 1963 two-track tape having been scrapped once the mono master was prepared. This was done in 13 takes, onto which they overdubbed, in one take, the vocals in the rhythm left/vocals right pattern of their earlier two-track tapes."

We know at least part of that account is wrong, the vocal overdubs were not accomplished in one take, as this outtake snippet from Anthology proves:

Sie Liebt Dich (outtake from Anthology)

I think it is reasonable to believe that the thirteen takes that Lewisohn describes it took to re-record the Sie Liebt Dich rhythm track could instead have been thirteen takes to successfully reconstruct the rhythm track for Sie Liebt Dich from the components of the original She Loves You master tapes. This process would have been very laborious, and could have easily taken thirteen tries, the very reason a stereo mix was abandoned originally.

At the same time, is it reasonable to believe it would have taken the Beatles thriteen takes to re-record the rhythm track for a song they already knew very well by this point?

If indeed some recombining of the master tapes was involved in recreating the She Loves You rhythm track, this could be the very cause of the speed differences between the two releases. It may have been necessary for them to slightly speed up the She Loves You two-track master in Paris as they were making the mix, in an attempt to make the various tape components match better.

Deciding For Yourself

Despite the difficulty due to the factors described above, it is still possible to synchronize She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich enough to demonstrate the phenomenon of how alike they sound. When you listen to them synchronized, it sounds as if the lead guitar and bass guitar parts are identical throughout. In addition, the drum part also sounds like it is identical in several unique passages.

To help you explore the striking similarities between She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich, I have prepared the four clips below. Each is the same segment of both songs, the Parlophone mono mix of She Loves You on the left and the instrumental track from the stereo mix of Sie Liebt Dich from the Parlophone Rarities LP on the right, with Sie Liebt Dich slightly slowed down (approximately 2%) to match the speeds, and synchronized to line up as close as possible.

She Loves You/Sie Liebt Dich Comparison (Clip 1)
She Loves You/Sie Liebt Dich Comparison (Clip 2)
She Loves You/Sie Liebt Dich Comparison (Clip 3)
She Loves You/Sie Liebt Dich Comparison (Clip 4)

Besides being generally alike, here are some specific things to look for in the above clips:

  1. The de-emphasized drum beat after the second "Yeah Yeah Yeah".
    The lead guitar has an identical note-doubling in the phrase right before the vocal.
  2. The unique drum break before "and you know..."
  3. Extra notes in bass line under "but now she said she knows..."
  4. The lead guitar phrases, the first of which starts sloppily.

When listening to these examples, try to focus on one instrument at a time. Listening to these soundclips in headphones makes it easier to focus on each instrumental element.

Also, listen for what is alike, rather than what is missing from one or other, as missing sounds can easily be explained by being "buried" in their respective mixes by other sounds or differences in the mixing and mastering processes.

After hearing the two versions of the song synchronized, and considering the details described above, it's my opinion that the two recordings, She Loves You and Sie Liebt Dich, were made using the same instrumental performance. However, we may never know the answer for sure. Many of the people involved are no longer with us, and it was years ago. Perhaps if more of the Sie Liebt Dich recording session (a bit of which is included above) is ever released from the EMI vaults, we may know if they really did record a new live rhythm track for Sie Liebt Dich that day in Paris in 1964. Until then, we'll just have to depend on our own ears.

And remember, it was George Martin who said "All you need is ears".

This article is Copyright © 1996, David Haber, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission.

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