In Spite of All the Danger
|"In Spite of All the Danger"|
Original 78 rpm acetate
|Song by the Quarrymen from the album Anthology 1|
|Released||20 November 1995 (UK)
21 November 1995 (US)
|Recorded||Phillips Sound Recording Service, Liverpool, 12 July 1958|
|Genre||Skiffle, blues, rock and roll|
|Length||2:44 (Anthology 1)
3:25 (Original acetate)
|Writer||Paul McCartney and George Harrison|
|Anthology 1 track listing|
The song was written by McCartney and Harrison and is the only song to credit the two alone. It is believed to have been recorded on Saturday 12 July 1958 (three days before Lennon's mother's death). However, that recording date is disputed by the group. The recording was made at Percy Phillips' home studio in Liverpool (see 1958 in music), and cost 17 shillings and six pence (87.5p).
Along with their cover of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" recorded at the same session, these songs were the first recordings made by what would become the Beatles. The only other previous recording of the Quarrymen in performance was a reel-to-reel tape-recording made by an audience member on 6 July 1957, during the Quarrymen's last set for the 1957 Rose Queen garden fête at St. Peter's Church, Woolton, Liverpool. This was made on the very day on which McCartney first met Lennon, but before he was a member of the group. So, while it is true that an audience member made a recording that night, the recording was not under the band's control, and it was made before McCartney, Harrison or Starr joined the band.
McCartney has claimed he wrote the song. "'In Spite Of All The Danger' was actually written by me and George played the guitar solo! We were mates and nobody was into copyrights and publishing, nobody understood — we actually used to think when we came down to London that songs belonged to everyone.... I remember we all went down on the bus with our instruments – amps and guitars – and the drummer went separately. We waited in the little waiting room outside while somebody else made their demo and then it was our turn. We just went into the room, hardly saw the fella because he was next door in a little control booth. "OK, what are you going to do?" We ran through it very quickly, quarter of an hour, and it was all over. I think we paid £5 for that. It was me, John, George, Colin Hanton on drums and Duff Lowe, five of us ... I sang the lead, I think so anyway. It was my song. It's very similar to an Elvis song. It's me doing an Elvis ... I'm a bit loath to say which! ... It was one that I'd heard at scout camp when I was younger and I'd loved it."
Most commentators conclude that the Presley song used by McCartney as a model was "Tryin' to Get to You", which was included in Elvis's first UK album, back in 1956. Chris Ingram says it was "clearly inspired" by it, and John C. Winn says it was "fashioned after" it. However, the fact McCartney himself is not entirely sure as to which Elvis song influenced him may be simply that it was not just one Elvis song, but actually two of his songs which influenced him, the second being the last track on Elvis' 1957 Christmas Album, which hit UK stores by early December, a gospel song entitled "It is no secret". Twice during that recording, after the first and second verse, the Jordainaires, who backed Presley starting in 1956, perform a chorus which is very similar to the various choruses one hears "In spite of all the danger". That particular chorus is not heard in any of the original versions of the same song, by other artists, so if in fact McCartney wanted to recreate the Elvis song he'd heard and loved while at scout camp, years earlier, it was after listening to both songs, the second a few months before recording "In spite of all the danger", that did the job, inadvertent as it may have been, in the latter case.
The Song is in the key of E and follows a standard I (E chord)-I7-IV (A chord)-V7 (B7 chord)-I-IV-I progression. Here the harmonic development initially arises with the move (in bar 5 on "I'll do anything for you") to a subdominant or IV (A chord built on the 4th degree of the E major scale), but without the intervening range of chords prolonging harmonic tension that so characterised later Beatles songwriting. The resolution back to the tonic comes as the V chord (B7 in bar 8 on "you want me to") shifts to the I (E chord on "true to me").
History of the recording
The tape was wiped after being pressed on an 10-inch disc. Only one copy of the "That'll Be the Day" and "In Spite of All the Danger" recordings was made, and each band member kept the acetate disc for a week. Lowe was the last to have it, keeping it for nearly 25 years. In 1981, Lowe attempted to sell it at auction, but McCartney intervened and purchased it from him. McCartney had engineers restore as much of the record's sound quality as possible and then made approximately 50 copies of the single that he gave as personal gifts to family and friends. In 2004, Record Collector magazine named the original pressing as the most valuable record in existence, estimating its worth at £100,000, with the 1981 copies made by McCartney coming in second on the list at £10,000 each.
"In Spite of All the Danger" was not released to the public until it appeared on 1995's Anthology 1 collection (see 1995 in music) along with "That'll Be the Day". The Anthology version (2:44) runs a little shorter than the unedited original (3:25).
McCartney played the song throughout his 2005 world tour (see 2005 in music).
The song's recording was depicted by "The Nowhere Boys" in the 2009 biopic Nowhere Boy which was accurate even to the 17/6d charge for the recording session. The band also perform "That'll Be The Day," although this was cut out of the film and is now available as a deleted scene on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases. These versions of the two songs can be heard on the film's soundtrack.
- John Lennon – lead vocal, rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney – backing vocal, rhythm guitar
- George Harrison – lead guitar, backing vocal
- John Lowe – piano
- Colin Hanton – drums
- THE RECORDINGS - phillipsacetates.com
- THE SOURCE - The Savage Young Beatles - 6 July 1957 - Woolton Parish Church
- Atkinson, Malcolm. "The Quarry Men's First Recordings". Abbeyrd’s Beatle Page. Retrieved 29 June 2008.
- Mark Lewisohn. The Beatles Recording Sessions. Harmony Books. New York. 1989. The Paul McCartney Interview. http://www.scribd.com/doc/27774163/The-Beatles-Recording-Sessions-MARK-LEWISOHN (accessed 24 December 2012)
- Chris Ingham, The Rough Guide to the Beatles, Rough Guides, 2009.
- Way Beyond Compare: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, 1957-1965, Three Rivers Press, 2008, p.2.
- Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p22
- Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p23
- Phillips, Peter. "The 10inch aluminium and acetate disc was cut by Percy Phillips (according to the Studio Log) on the 12th July 1958". "Phillipsacetates.com" (Accessed 2 November 2010).
- Barnes, Anthony. "It cost 90p to make. But the first Lennon/McCartney disc is now worth £100,000". Belfast Telegraph, 1 November 2004. (Accessed 15 June 2006).[dead link]
- Cross, Craig. "In Spite of All the Danger". Retrieved 7 October 2005.