139 – Yes It Is – Happyhead
Original Version recorded 16 February 1965
Ukulele version recorded September 6 2011
Carl Marsh – Vocals, bass & guitars (lot’s of ’em)
Martyn Barker – Drums
David Barratt – Ukulele and everything else
Produced by David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste
from original recordings made at Delafield Road
Photo Liza Stubbs
Written by John Lennon
Credited to Lennon & McCartney
ABOUT THE SONG
“Yes It Is” is a gem of a song originally hidden away on the B-side of “Ticket To Ride”.
John originally thought he was re-writing “This Boy”, and some ways he was.
12/8 time signature – Check,
Irish melancholia – Check
Three-part harmony – Check,
Jangley acoustic guitar – Check.
Forcing The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan into one song – check
It really is a lovely tune, and one of the more underrated songs in the canon. The production hides the lyric in sugarcoated three-part harmony throughout. I prefer the approach of Lennon’s original demo. The solo voice seems to express the psychotic nature of the lyric much more effectively than the sweet harmonies.
Let’s face it. John was not a happy camper in 1965. “I’m Down”, “Help” and “Baby’s In Black” all drip with melancholy, maybe even depression, but “Yes It Is” is a much more vicious animal.
The singer is telling his date that if she wears red he is going to be pissed off because his former girlfriend wore red all the time. There is a menace about this character.
“If you wear red tonight, Remember what I said tonight.
For red is the colour that my baby wore,
And what’s more, it’s true,
Yes it is, it’s true”
Something tells me this is not going to be very successful date.
Nerdy mistake spotting alert!
On the stereo version at the 1st "I could be Happy With You By My Side", there’s a swell at"I", then "Happy", the 3rd one at the word "You" an the next one is at "Side". Listen to that swell chord, at the word "Side". He knew he did it too. There’s a certain character about the next chord after that tells me he was recovering from the "glitch", and he did it to complete perfection too.
The ukulele version features Shriekback and Happyhead vocalist Carl Marsh. The full violence of the song is unleashed via a wall of extremely angry guitars and a brutal performance by drummer Martyn Barker (also a long term Shriekback member).
Carl is not partially psychotic but he sure knows how to sing like one. To prepare for this vocal he lived on a diet of Glutamates (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutamate), Carlsberg Special Brew and no sleep, for a 72 hour period.
One has to admire such professionalism.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Carl Marsh achieved fame and everlasting glory as a founder-member of the legendary and influential Shriekback, along with the Gang Of Four’s bassist Dave Allen and XTC’s keyboard player Barry Andrews. He contributed to the band’s incredible first four albums before leaving to pursue a solo career after completing their masterpiece, Oil & Gold.
His long-term partnership with David Barratt began with his alarmingly diverse solo album Too Much Fun but found its true voice when the pair moved from London to New York and, as Happyhead, created the punchy, witty, hybrid pop noise of Give Happyhead.
Marsh then swam back upstream to breed, also giving birth to many and various writing/production projects and the media production team Big & Clever, with keyboardist/producer Geoff Woolley and Barratt/Happyhead co-writer Bill Clift.
Marsh recently rejoined Andrews to add two tracks to the acclaimed new Shriekback album Life In The Loading Bay and is now working on the next one.
Other projects will materialize this year…