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New Beatles music on track using AI: 'Imagine' that

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Sculpture of The Beatles (Image by Fedor | Unsplash)

An AI experiment promises the release of new Beatles music later this year. Meanwhile, David Kowalski unearths some 7" vinyls, including an earlier attempt to 'bring back' John Lennon using technology.

MOVING HOUSE for a music fan is a nightmare, especially when it comes to shifting a physical media collection. But on the other side, when unpacking a decades-old-and-still-growing vinyl collection, you find things you haven’t heard in ages. Here are some of the 7” singles I unearthed this week.


The big news this week is that Paul McCartney has used artificial intelligence (AI) to create a new (as yet unnamed) Beatles track to be released sometime before the end of the year. Fans on social media have gone berserk.

We shouldn't be too surprised — The Beatles have tried this type of thing before, but now that the technology has improved, it will hopefully sound a lot better.

 7" vinyl of The Beatles' single 'Free As A Bird' (Image supplied)

McCartney took an old John Lennon demo tape, used AI to break the scratchy recording apart into its component parts (that is, separate the vocals from any other instruments recorded onto a cassette tape) and then layered new instruments and vocals over the top. 

The super-group attempted this in 1995 with former Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) frontman Jeff Lynne in the producer’s chair for two new tracks:'Free As a Bird' and 'Real Love'. They took an old demo recording of Lennon’s, transferred it to digital tape and the three surviving Beatles overlaid their instrumental magic.

Neither track set the charts alight or stirred up a new round of Beatlemania. All the digital processing made Lennon sound like he was singing from the bottom of a drainpipe. And Jeff Lynne’s production had the band sounding less like The Beatles and more like ELO. However, 'Free as a Bird' was a technical marvel in more ways than one — the amazing CGI video is too good not to revisit.


In 2013 a noise-rock band from Bedford, north of London, whose name summarises the plot of the film Titanic with the precision of a haiku – James Cameron, take note! – embarked on an ambitious art project for its one and only vinyl release.

In collaboration with designer Daniel Eatock and artist Andy Holden, Ice, Sea, Dead People had the idea to get a bunch of the band's friends to draw on pieces of paper on moving turntables while the band played their latest tunes.

These artworks were then sandwiched between clear vinyl and 180 unique records were pressed. No two records are identical. Side A is 'You Could Be a Model' — a thumping, nuclear energy release of a track. Not only does it look amazing, but it sounds hot too.


I really loved The Motels when I was a school kid. Lead singer Martha Davis went solo with her first LP, Policy, in 1987. The first single from it was 'Don’t Tell Me The Time'  and it showcases everything brilliant about Martha — the way she wraps bright music around a powerful and heartbreaking story. 

The track was a top-ten hit in Australia but bombed in every other market.


In 2014, ostensibly to capitalise on the resurgence of the popularity of vinyl, the other major recording studio in Central London (after Abbey Road), RAK Studios, decided to re-activate its in-house record label and start up a mail-order 7-inch singles club.

RAK Records, in the '70s and '80s, released legendary records by artists such as Suzi Quatro, Smokie, Hot Chocolate and Kim Wilde.

This set of releases featured three brand new young artists who were given side A of the single for their own original song. The B-side had to be a cover of a song from the RAK Records back catalogue.

I picked up all three. Each paper sleeve contained an autograph by the band. This particular single features a close harmony folk group called The Cadbury Sisters, who now appear to be inactive as a band. The band's original track, 'Weight of It', is a gentle acoustic piece sprinkled with sunshine.


Melbourne funk-popsters I’m Talking were huge in the mid-1980s, bringing to the attention of the nation a powerful new voice in Kate Ceberano.

The band’s synth grooves put them at odds with guitar bands working the suburban beer-barn circuit, but the small recorded output of the band’s career has held up well.

As a primary school kid – as I was in 1986 when this single was released – I wasn’t cool enough to listen to The Smiths or whoever the cool kids were listening to. This was the sort of music I was into. It was also the kind of record I would hide when friends of mine who had "alternative" music tastes came to visit.

Now that I’ve grown up a bit, it's no longer a guilty pleasure but a damn fine piece of music.


David Kowalski is a writer, musician, educator, sound engineer and podcaster. His podcasts 'The Sound and the Fury Podcast' and 'Audio Cumulus' can be heard exclusively here. You can follow David on Twitter @sound_fury_pod.

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