When was it recorded? Jun. 22/23, 1961
When was it first released, and on which album? Mar. 27, 1964 as a single (released on “Anthology 1” in 1995)
Who wrote it? Harrison/Lennon
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
Originally titled “Beatle Bop,” “Cry for a Shadow” is an instrumental number and the Beatles’ “first original composition to be professionally recorded” (Wiki). It is the only known Beatles song credited to George and John alone.
“Cry for a Shadow” was inspired by The Shadows’ instrumental hit “Apache,” which I posted a video for on “Day 34: Cayenne” if you want a listen. Here’s what George had to say about the track’s genesis.
“In Hamburg we had to play so long, we actually used to play Apache… But John and I were just bullshitting one day, and he had this new little Rickenbacker with a funny kind of wobble bar on it. And he started playing that off, and I just came in, and we made it up right on the spot.” — George Harrison (Guitar Player magazine, 1987)
“The result wasn’t a bit like Apache, but we liked it and we used it in the act for a while.” — George Harrison (NME, 1963)
Quoth Wikipedia, “The Beatles had been approached to record a number of songs as the backing band for English rock ‘n’ roll singer Tony Sheridan.” Toward the end of their recording session with Sheridan, they taped two of their own songs, “Ain’t She Sweet” and this number. According to Wikipedia, “Cry for a Shadow” was recorded at Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, Hamburg-Harburg, Germany. It is the only officially released Beatles song featuring Pete Best on percussion.
What happens when a band records something before they’re famous and then gets hugely popular? You cash in on that shit!
“Cry for a Shadow” was intended to be the B-side for Tony Sheridan’s single “Why,” which the Beatles backed him on. From what I can gather, Polydor (the record company) pulled this single, releasing a different Sheridan song, then flipped it so “Cry for a Shadow” was the A-side and “Why” was the B-side. Here’s “Why” for reference.
“Cry for a Shadow” was also released on “The Beatles’ First” and “Anthology 1.”
Both songs are decent. They’re not bad but they don’t strike me the way a number of other tracks have. I’m not sure “Cry for a Shadow” is as indebted to “Apache” specifically as it is to The Shadows in general since the melody didn’t sound that familiar, but it’s got an excellent groove of its own going on.