CHAPTER 3 – from the JUNE 2014 release of “HORSE-DOGGIN'”- The Morrell Archives Vol 1.
I was at the tail end of the recent Rolling Stone magazine, when I saw an ad in the back that looked interesting. It was a mail order company out of Glendale, CA called Godzilla. They had a Beatle album they were calling “Yellow Matter Custard” and it had songs on it I never heard of. They included “I Got a Woman,” “Glad All Over,” “I Just Don’t Understand,” “Slow Down,” “Don’t Ever Change,” “A Shot of Rhythm & Blues,” “Sure To Fall,” “Nothin’ Shakin’ (But the Leaves on the Tree),” “Lonesome Tears In My Eyes,” “So How Come,” “I’m Gonna’ Sit Right Down and Cry,” “Crying, Waiting, Hoping,” “To Know Her Is To Love Her” and “The Honeymoon Song.”
The only song I knew was “Slow Down” and I wondered how could this album have a dozen songs that I never heard of before? I never read about the Beatles recording these titles. One song title was “Glad All Over,” which I immediately thought was the Beatles singing a Dave Clark Five hit.
I sent the money and the record came with Godzilla’s list of bootleg albums. This was serious reading material for a kid like me. Bootleg albums were hard to find and this place had a huge list that I was interested in.
I busted the album open and ran to the record player. The disc was red vinyl with no song titles. I got it on the turntable and immediately stood back, not knowing what was coming on. I jacked up the volume and began to listen. “I Got a Woman” was the first track and John Lennon started singing. I was convinced it was John, but was it the Beatles? Yes! It was the Beatles. There was no doubt in my mind.
This was too good to be true. I was listening to a brand new Beatle album that I never heard about and it was thrilling. By the time “I Just Don’t Understand” came on, the record changed quality. It was like the music was taped off a radio and someone was playing with the tuning knob. I knew right away this was a copy of something that had been played on the radio, taped, and then made into a disc, but I didn’t care, the track sounded like a hit Beatle song to me.
“Slow Down” came on and was running a little fast, but I got real close to the speaker to hear if this was the original version, an outtake, or a live version with no audience. It wasn’t the exact recording my ears were used to but it was close. John’s screams were there, George’s guitar was close to what I was used to hearing. To me, this was a professional recording, just not finished. It even had a cold ending.
“A Shot of Rhythm & Blues” came on and it made me dance around. My arms were flailing. I turned the volume up as high as I could. I could only imagine how great the master of these songs must sound. This could have been a hit for the Beatles. I was excited. This was a gem. I wondered if this was original material or a cover. I knew the only way to find out was to try to find someone to ask John Lennon and that man was Howard Smith, who often had written about John & Yoko and had them up to his radio show on WPLJ-FM.
I got into action. I looked for a pen, grabbed a sheet of paper and started scribbling. I told Howard the story and was firm about this being a Beatles album. I put a self addressed stamped envelope in there in case he wanted to reply. For the next week I played the “Yellow Matter Custard” album over and over and over. I asked everyone I knew about the songs. No one had a clue. There were no research books on the Beatles back in ‘71.
Meanwhile, out of the blue, the local paper, the Newark Star Ledger, ran a story on John & Yoko in their Sunday section. The date was November 7, 1971. It had a great big picture of the two of them at the top.
One thing stood out in the article. It said: “The Lennons’ have been living in New York now for several months, in a seventeenth floor suite at the St. Regis Hotel. Their room contains a complete 16 mm editing room, a powerful stereo system, Chuck Berry albums everywhere you look, assorted books by authors including Realist editor Paul Krassner and the Reverend Daniel Berrigan, several paintings of skulls, a large rack of clothes, a glowing color TV, two acoustical guitars, a vase with yellow roses, and walls covered with posters, plus a rare copy of a withdrawn Beatles album cover of boys dressed as butchers and holding bloody, decapitated dolls and slabs of meat.”
I was salivating when I read that. To me, the Beatles Butcher cover was a holy grail. A real Beatles album cover that was used and then taken back due to poor taste. To the Beatles and the designer, it was art. I didn’t even see a real Butcher cover until the 70’s.
Thirty days later, on December 7, 1971, a month to the day I read about John having his Butcher cover, I was holding it in my hands.