Slow Down

Album: Past Masters Volume 1 (1964)
Play Video


  • This was originally recorded by the New Orleans R&B singer Larry Williams, who was groomed by Specialty Records to replace Little Richard after he left rock for religion. The Beatles covered two other Williams songs as well: "Bad Boy" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzie." The only other artist who The Beatles covered three times is Carl Perkins.

    Although he was never a superstar in America, Larry Williams was quite influential in the UK, which is why the Beatles recorded so many of his songs. Most of the Williams covers were released in the UK before they were released stateside. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Nick Duckett of Rhythmandbluesrecords explains: "Lyrically in the same territory as 'You Can't Do That,' 'Slow Down' is unusual in having a long thirty-second instrumental introduction. The original, although recorded in Los Angeles, features a New Orleans big-band sound using top musicians from the Crescent City. They play the in-vogue beat of 1958, the big-snare back-beat with a strong accent on beats 2 and 4. Earl Palmer is arguably the most influential drummer of modern times. He worked out a brand new beat during the recording of Fats Domino's The Fat Man, the four-to-the-floor beat, which Holland, Dozier and Holland adopted as their very own for early Motown productions, and he was one of the pioneers of this new beat, which became known as the rock backbeat. Palmer incidentally was the first musician to use the expression 'funky' in referring to a syncopated and more danceable beat. Where Williams' band features an archetypal rock'n'roll saxophone break from Plas Johnson, the Beatles 1964 version of 'Slow Down' contains a simple but effective guitar solo from George and the boys wrap it up with an added sixth-chord ending as in 'She Loves You.'"
  • Although this was cut at the same Carl Perkins-attended session which produced "Matchbox," the A-side of this single, a piano was overdubbed by George Martin three days later.

Comments: 14

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaI know a lot of fans including the guys themselves hated the song, but I really liked it, especially George Martin's piano.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaLuLu it's Baby what you trying to do.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 30th 1964, the Beatles' "Matchbox" and the flip-side, "Slow Down", both entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, "Matchbox" at position #81 and "Slow Down" at #99...
    "Matchbox" would peak at #17 {for 1 week} on October 11th, 1964, while "Slow Down" reached its highest position at #25 {for 1 week} on October 4th, 1964...
    The original version of "Slow Down" was released by its composer, Larry Williams, and was the B-side of "Dizzy, Miss Lizzy", which reached #69 on the Top 100 in 1958...
    R.I.P. John, George, and Mr. Williams {1935 - 1980}.
  • Carl from Apg, MdI am seeing "Album: Past Masters Volume 1 Released: 1964". No, "Past Masters" was released MUCH later. The only 1964 album release I know of for "Slow Down" by The Beatles was on the Capitol "Something New" album in the U.S.
    Please fix the reference I just quoted.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationAndrew Hickey in 'The Beatles In Mono' Book: "While McCartney was the Little Richard fan of the group, Lennon was always an admirer of the obscure Richard soundalike Larry Williams. Presumably the band were inspired to record this cover because of its similarity to the Little Richard track, though it's a more strolling pace than the frantic run of Long Tall Sally.
    George Martin plays the same piano part he did for the earlier track, but here it works with the track rather than against it, and while the song itself is nowhere near as good as the Little Richard song, Lennon sells it with conviction (it has much of the same near-violent obsession and jealousy that characterised much of his own output at the time). While the double-tracking is again sloppy (with Lennon forgetting the line "now you've got a boyfriend down the street"), and the track is obviously knocked off quickly, it is still one of the better cover versions from this period of the band's career.
  • Carl from Apg, Md"Dizzy Miss Lizzie" and "Bad Boy" were both on U.S. "Beatles VI" album.
    Then "Dizzy Miss Lizzie" appeard on the British "Help!" album.
  • George from Belleville, NjThis is a high powered rock and roll performance.Lennon's voice rips into the song like a wild man turned loose.A great rocking number from their early years.Great lead guitar work.Every moment a thrill to listen to.Exciting.
  • John from Eugene, OrSee Songfacts for 'Bad Boy'. Larry Williams was NOT 'groomed' to take Little Richard's place. Larry Williams rocked and he wrote great songs. They were both on the same label at the same time and that was great for Art Rupe, the owner of Specialty records. In that respect, you could say that Specialty records was on the same influential par as Sun records. You simply can not discount the influence that both of these artists had on rock n roll and the Beatles which, of course, had an influence on us. Too bad they don't rock out like this any more; can you imagine what it was like LIVE! (Turn It Up!)How would you have liked to go to a small club and listen to the Beatles play 'Bad Boy', 'Slow Down' and 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy' while you danced right in front of the band. Incredible!
  • Lulu from New Orleans, LaDoes anyone else hear where he says "but now you've got a boyfriend down the street..." but also says "girl" at the same time? It sounds like he's double-tracked but why did he say "girl"?
  • Adam from Los Angeles, CaYou can especially hear Lennon's driving rythmn guitar the most on the last verse right after he sings the words: 'baaaaby now your mooovin' way too fast'. And you're right, Steve, what a rocker it is!
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaForrest from
    Well,it's a rocker, and the 45 version put out by Capitol here in the States has a nice "rock concert" like sound with the added echo.Lennon as a rock singer sounds great on this one!
  • Rise from Exeter, CaThe (Young)Rascals did a cover on their eponymous debut album. Felix Caviliere and Gene Cornish fired off great licks behind Felix's "white soul" vocals. It's my favorite version of "Slow Down."
  • Steve from Fenton, MoI think this is one of the Beatles better cover songs with a great vocal by Lennon.
  • Forrest from Rochester, MnThis is as close as it comes to a Beatles song that I hate.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde

Johnette Napolitano of Concrete BlondeSongwriter Interviews

The singer/bassist for Concrete Blonde talks about how her songs come from clairvoyance, and takes us through the making of their hit "Joey."

Marc Campbell - "88 Lines About 44 Women"

Marc Campbell - "88 Lines About 44 Women"They're Playing My Song

The Nails lead singer Marc Campbell talks about those 44 women he sings about over a stock Casio keyboard track. He's married to one of them now - you might be surprised which.

Carol Kaye

Carol KayeSongwriter Interviews

A top session musician, Carol played on hundreds of hits by The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Frank Sinatra and many others.

Michael W. Smith

Michael W. SmithSongwriter Interviews

Smith breaks down some of his worship tracks as well as his mainstream hits, including "I Will Be Here For You" and "A Place In This World."

Taylor Dayne

Taylor DayneSongwriter Interviews

Taylor talks about "The Machine" - the hits, the videos and Clive Davis.

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song Spoofs

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.