Saturday, June 16, 2018

Mixing "Across The Universe" For A Charity Album

Back in February 1968, a new single was required by the Beatles before they left for India. One of the songs considered but rejected was John Lennon's "Across The Universe". In the end, John agreed to donate the song for a charity album for the World Wildlife Fund.
Fast forward to January 1969 during the "Get Back/Let It Be" session and an acetate was played to the band to remind them of the song. At this point, the song was in mono and the mix from February 08 1968 was used for the acetate. You can also hear an attempt at the song by the band from January 1969 in the "Let It Be" film.
Fast forward (again) to March 1969 and Apple is thinking of releasing an EP of songs from the film "Yellow Submarine" and including "Across The Universe" as a bonus track. Again, the song was not used.
Finally, the acetate version of "Across The Universe" was used by George Martin on October 02 1969 in order to mix the song in stereo for the UK charity album entitled "No One's Gonna Change Our World" which would be released on December 12 1969. The song was sped up a half tone and animal/bird noises were added to the very beginning and near the end. Acoustic guitar/vocal in the middle surrounded by tamboura and backing vocals on one side and more acoustic, piano, maracas, etc. on the other side of the stereo spectrum.
You can find this version of the song on the UK only charity album as well as the UK version of "Rarities" and the US version of "Rarities" where it made it's first appearance (all of the above on vinyl). You can hear this version on "Past Masters Volume One and Two" (LP) and "Past masters Volume Two" (CD). A fold down mono version can be heard on the "Beatles in Mono" disc.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

"Cold Turkey" recording sessions.

"Cold Turkey" was first recorded on September 25 1969 at EMI Studio Three in London. After spending most of the day mixing for the "Live Peace In Toronto" project, he was joined by Eric Clapton on guitar, Ringo on drums and Klaus Voorman on the bass guitar. 26 takes were produced for the basic tracks and were eventually deemed unsatisfactory.
Three days later on September 28 1969, the same line up of musicians attempted another recording at a different studio, this time Trident Studios. On September 29 1969, mixing of the song took place back at EMI Studios. Overdubbing (not sure which instrument and/or vocal) as well as another mix took place almost a week later in Studio Two of EMI.
The September 29 1969 mix was available on an acetate and this is the version that ended up on the bootleg "The Lost Lennon Tapes Volume Seven" LP. This mix has a different vocal and sounds a bit raw with a lack of overdubs. The official commercial release was edited on to the end of the song. The commercial version was mixed at the end of October and issued in stereo only.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Live Peace In Toronto

There was a festival concert held in Toronto, Canada which featured a lot of the 1950s era artists including Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, etc.) and the promoter for the concert had contacted Apple in London on September 12 1969 whereby he hooked up via phone with John and Yoko and had asked John if he wouldn't mind flying over for the festival to maybe introduce an act or two. Lennon must have been very impressed as he insisted on playing at the festival. The promoter accepted and arrangements for the flight was made that very day. Lennon decided on his old Hamburg friend Klaus Voorman for bass duties, Alan White (now known as having played in Yes) on drums and Eric Clapton who was asked via telegram.
The next day at 10 in the morning on September 13 1969, the band gathered at the airport and rehearsed on the plane with no previous practice whatsoever. They decided on a few rock and roll oldies and some newer , easy material. The band arrived in Toronto and were escorted to Varsity Stadium. The band took to the stage with a roar from the crowd and off they went with the following oldies: "Blue Suede Shoes", "Money (That's What I Want)", "Dizzy Miss Lizzie", and more recent material such as "Yer Blues" from the year old Beatles' "White Album", the latest recordings "Cold Turkey" and "Give Peace A Chance". Two Yoko songs were also featured including "Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow)" and "John, John (Let's Hope For Peace)". These songs were mixed in stereo in finally released as "Live Peace in Toronto 1969" by the Plastic Ono Band on December 12 1969; another superior stereo mix was conducted for the 1995 release on compact disc of the same title with the same songs in the same order. You can see the concert on the DVD "Sweet Toronto" with the John/Yoko/Plastic Ono Band footage.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Cold Turkey" Demos

A song being worked on by John Lennon immediately after the "Abbey Road" sessions was "Cold Turkey" was brought to the group (Beatles) but was not considered for the sessions. Lennon had decided to record it anyways, and he attempted a demo of the song.
There are three versions with one being the basic track, the second being the basic track with another acoustic guitar and vocals and the third having Yoko in the background contributing her own style of vocal.
All of these demos can be heard in their various forms on the vinyl bootlegs "The Lost Lennon Tapes Volume Six" for the first basic track, "The Lost Lennon Tapes Volume Seventeen" for the second version with the vocal/ acoustic overdub and finally "The Lost Lennon Tapes Volume Twenty" for the final version with Yoko's vocalization added. All the above bootleg vinyl on "Bag" records.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Mary Hopkin Session Or Two

During the recording for "Abbey Road" in 1969, both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr took some time out of the Beatles' recording sessions in order to create a new single for their Apple Records artist Mary Hopkin. An undated session was held in July 1969 and another session was held on August 17 1969. Both sessions took place at EMI Studios although the studio number is unknown.
Two songs were recorded; a cover version of "Que Sera, Sera" made famous by Doris Day and written by "Livingston/Evans" - which may be the "in joke" throughout the Get Back/Let sessions and Ms. Day is even mentioned on the track "Dig It" from those days as well as some spoken references during that period. But I digress. The B side of the single would be "The Fields of St. Etienne" written by the Apple in-house songwriting team of "Gallagher/Lyle".
Both "Que Sera, Sera" and "The Fields of St. Etienne" were produced by Paul McCartney although on the back over of Mary's "Those Were The Days" Apple LP the credit is incorrectly listed as produced by Mickie Most. Paul plays the acoustic guitar on both songs; Mary also plays acoustic on the B side. Ringo plays drums and percussion for the A and B sides as well as tambourine, handclaps, etc. There is an orchestral style overdub on the last chorus of "Que Sera,Sera" or it may be a keyboard with sustaining chords. Also it is a mystery as to who arranged the orchestration for "The Fields of St. Etienne" - is it George Martin? Richard Hewson? Anyway, the other mystery is the male voice added to the last verse in the B side.
The single was originally released in France in 1969 but released in North America as Apple 1823 as well as being released commercially on the compilation Apple LP "Those Were The Days" as well as being re-issued on compact disc in 1995 and on the remastered Apple box set on CD in 2010.

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Orchestral Overdubs

One of the last things recorded for the upcoming "Abbey Road" LP were the orchestral overdubs with arrangements by George Martin for: "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight" as well as the two George Harrison compositions "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun".
For "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight", a final overdub on July 31 1969 in Studio 2 at EMI consisted of Paul's re-doing his lead vocal as well as overdubbed guitar and drums probably all played by Paul at this point. The orchestral recording was conducted on August 15 1969 in Studio 1.
For "Something", George Harrison also re-did his lead vocal for the song on July 16 1969 in Studio 2 of EMI with Paul on harmonies. George also re-did his guitar solo in the middle on August 15 1969 the same day as the 21 piece orchestra was added in Studio 1 as well.
Finally, handclaps were added to "Here Comes The Sun" on August 11 1969 with the orchestra overdub once again on August 15 1969. All the orchestra overdubs were done on the same day in Studio 1. The moog overdubs were added four days later by Harrison and the song was mixed for stereo on the same day as well - August 20 1969.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

"Oh! Darling/ I Want You (She's So Heavy)" Sessions

Nearly finished with the main recording for the upcoming "Abbey Road" LP, a few sessions still took place during the month of August 1969 - for instance, Paul McCartney entered Studio Three at EMI to add some tambourine and guitar to "Oh! Darling" although the guitar is not evident on the released track. Two days later, John, George and Paul added some backing vocals to the song and this was to be the last Beatles recording with John Lennon contributing. The song was mixed into stereo the next day on August 12 1969 and released on the Apple "Abbey Road" LP/CD.
Also being work on was Lennon's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". The original 35 takes with the backing track had been recorded back in February 22 1969 at Trident Studios in London with Billy Preston. An edit of the backing track takes number 9, number 20 and number 32 were mixed into mono for John to take away. On April 19 1969, both John and George Harrison overdubbed multiple guitars onto this track and eventually the entire thing became take 1. The next day congas and organ (by Billy Preston maybe) were overdubbed onto take 1. On August 08 1969 at EMI Studios, the moog synthesizer white noise was added to the ending of the song but they placed it on the wrong tape reels pre-mix so when the vocal harmonies were added on August 11 1969, the ending was edited from the "She's so..." part so that the moog synth could be brought into the song.
Finally on August 20 1969, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" was mixed for stereo with the main body of work from the "take 1" and the remainder from the "She's so...."part and the ending. Although the song lasted over 8 minutes, John Lennon decided to have an abrupt ending and asked the tape engineer to cut off the ending at an unspecified time which is how the song suddenly stops at the end of side one on the "Abbey Road" LP.