Welcome to "Every Little Thing", a blog discussing all 214 songs released by the Beatles from 1962 to 1970....by Daniel Seth Levine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

#61: Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey

Written by: Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller [Kansas City]/Richard Penniman [Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey]
Released: December 4, 1964
Appears on: Beatles For Sale

Lead vocal: Paul

"Kansas City" is probably one of the most well-known Leiber/Stoller songs they ever wrote. It was first written back in 1952, although no one would have a national hit with it until 1959. After that, the song became a rock standard.
"Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey" is a simple call-response chant that Little Richard wrote and recorded in 1956 as the B-Side to "Good Golly Miss Molly".
Of course, as a showman, Little Richard found that the best way to perform the two songs was to make them a medley. He performed it live and it obviously translated into a 45. (You can hear that here.)
The Beatles used to actually perform the entirety of "Kansas City" in the Cavern Club and in Hamburg. However, when the Beatles were required to do BBC shows, by then, they started just doing Little Richard's medley. Thus, this is what we have recorded on Beatles For Sale.
Since it's a Little Richard number, Paul takes the lead vocal. He does a wonderful job and, on an album where the covers really don't stick out that much, this is easily the best. It's also a fantastic Side One closer.
The Beatles recorded two takes, but like "Twist And Shout", the first take was the one that was issued. The second take is on Anthology 1, where it's used as the closer for that set. For some strange reason, Capitol used it as the opener for Beatles VI. So, the track was held over in the US, as Beatles VI was not released until June, 1966. It's a good song, but I think it works as a closer better. (Capitol was also stupid enough to just call the medley "Kansas City" and only gave credit to Leiber/Stoller, even on the label. It wasn't until the publisher's lawyer let them know that it was, in fact a medley, that they tried to change it. They never did change the title on the cover, but they did eventually on the label.)
As a side note, Paul did go back to the full "Kansas City" by recording it for Choba b CCCP - The Russian Album in 1988, showing that things do come full circle, especially in the Beatles universe.

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