Saturday, November 18, 2017

"The Ballad of John and Yoko" recording session.

Recorded in one day on April 14 1969 at EMI Studios (number 3). The session was originally a mixing session but both John and Paul attended the session and decided to record a new song by John describing his latest antics with Yoko.
George Martin produced and Geoff Emerick engineered (Mr. Emerick had not engineering a Beatles recording since July 1968 during the "White Album" sessions). It was said that George Harrison was busy shopping for a new home - moving out of Kinfauns in Esher; he would eventually move to Friar Park. Ringo was busy acting in the movie "The Magic Christian".
The original title for the song was "The Ballad Of John and Yoko (They're Gonna Crucify Me)" but the second half of the title was dropped for obvious reasons.
John played acoustic guitar and sang vocals/ Paul played drums. They played the song through eleven times and take ten was chosen for the commercial release.
Overdubs include Paul on bass, John on electric guitar twice. Once this was completed, Paul moved on to add some piano and then backing vocals. For percussion, John hit the back of his guitar and Paul shook some maracas. An eight hour session, all completed on eight tracks !! Only two Beatles and the beginning of an era: The song was mixed in stereo only; there are no true mono mixes, most so-called "mono" mixes are simply the stereo mix folded to one channnel.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Another Apple Session

On March 11 1969 (which was the day before Paul married Linda Eastman), two songs were worked on in order to present Apple artist Jackie Lomax with a second 45 single on the Apple label (the first one being "Sour Milk Sea" written by George Harrison and featuring the Beatles (minus John), Eric Clapton and Nicky Hopkin).
The two new songs consisted of a cover of the Coasters "Thumbin' A Ride" with the B side an original composition (by Jackie) entitled "Going Back to Liverpool".
On "Thumbin' A Ride", Paul plays drums and the song was produced at the Apple Studios on Savile Row. George was also present and contributed some guitar. The second side, "Going Back to Liverpool" also features Paul on bass and George on backing vocals and probably guitar as well. Both of these songs had been worked on this evening as well as probably other sessions around the same time frame.
Also, the single was not to be....it was eventually decided to release "Thumbin' A Ride" as a B side to the "New Day" Apple 45 single (in North America) and to the B side of "How The Web Was Woven" (in the UK).
"Going Back to Liverpool" was consigned to the vaults for the longest of time until finally released as bonus material for the re-issue of the "Is This What You Want" LP and CD re-issue by Apple circa 1991.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cambridge 1969

On the second of March, 1969 , Yoko was invited to perform at a "Natural Music" concert to be held at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. The performance was recorded live from the Lady Mitchell Hall on the premises.
John had brought along his guitar - the Epiphone Casino - and his amp and was creating feedback in order to accompany the vocal talents of Yoko Ono. The entire performance would last over 20 minutes and other musicians on the track included John Stephens on cymbals and percussion as well as John Tchicai on the sax (both of whom come into the performance after about 15 minutes). This performance is completely undertaken as performance art and is faded out on the record ending with a lone sax improvisation.
The track can be found on side one of the Zapple LP/CD "Unfinished Music No. 2; Life with the Lions" by John and Yoko.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"Under The Mersey Wall" Session

When George Harrison was in Los Angeles back in November of 1968, he had shown interest in the Moog III synthesizer which was a gigantic patch cord affair (monaural key capability). This keyboard was demonstrated to him by Bernie Krause. Mr. Krause had been hired to play Moog on tunes for the upcoming Apple artist Jackie Lomax's LP (which George Harrison was producing). Intrigued by the machine, George asked that a demonstration of the machine and it's sound be shown and the demonstration was recorded. The tapes of the demo were kept by Apple. The track which would be eventually released as the A-side of the "Electronic Sound" LP was mainly white noise and bleeps. One of the synths was then purchased by George and shipped to his home in England - the synth would eventually be brought to EMI Studios and used on some of the "Abbey Road" sessions.
Fast forward to mid February 1969; Bernie Krause visits George at his home and learns that his demo back in November 1968 had been recorded and would be released as "No Time or Space" on a "Zapple" LP (a subsidiary to Apple). Of course, Mr. Krause disagreed and backed out of the project. George promptly removed the Bernie Krause credit from the back of the LP jacket before being printed.
The B-side to the LP was therefore recorded solely by George at his home. He named it "Under the Mersey Wall" and it consists of some musical phrases and experimentation played on the synth keyboard.
Eventually, both sides were officially released as the Zapple LP "Electronic Sound". On the US release, the side titles are switched so that the A-side plays the B-side and the B-side plays the A-side. This experiment was also released on CD back in 1996 and as part of the "George Harrison: The Apple Years"  box set from 2014 on a remastered CD with a nice gatefold cover showing the Moog keyboard and patches.
The LP didn't sell we, it wasn't promoted very well - typical of Apple Records at that time with non-Beatles produce. George Harrison himself hardly talked about it at all during his lifetime.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

George Harrison Beatles Demos February 1969

On February 25 1969, George Harrison entered the EMI studios in London specifically to demo three of his latest (at the time) compositions. George had not contributed any songs for the rooftop session nor for the next day's basement session although several of his tunes were committed to tape during both the Twickenham rehearsals and the Apple Studios recordings during the "Get Back/Let It Be" session a month earlier. It also happened to be George's 26th birthday.
The new tunes included "Old Brown Shoe" (take 2) with George singing and playing piano. Two electric guitars were overdubbed as well. This demo can be heard on the commercial recording for the Apple 3LP/2CD "Anthology 3" project.
Up next is a beautiful version of "All Things Must Pass" (take 2); this consisted of George playing an electric guitar with the tremolo effect up full and vocal. A second vocal and plain electric without the effect was also added. There are two mixes available of this tune. One is on the bootleg "More Masters" which contains the second vocal - the other being the version on the official recording for the Apple 3LP/2CD "Anthology 3" project whereby there is only the single vocal.
Finally, the third demo consists of George's masterpiece "Something". The recording is built on an electric guitar and George's vocal. This version can also be found on the Apple 3LP/2CD "Anthology 3" project. All three tunes were mixed and given to George on acetates for him to take home.
As an aside, the George Harrison demo version of "Something" was most likely the demo given to Joe Cocker to record (as well as a demo of "She Came In through The Bathroom Window" which was also recorded by Joe). It's ironic that Joe Cocker recorded both songs in LA but that the songs were released after the issuance of "Abbey Road" in November 1969.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mary Hopkin's Second Apple Single

Sometime in early February 1969, Paul McCartney wrote a lovely song intended to be recorded by Apple artist Mary Hopkin for her second single. The first single being "Those Were The Days". Instead of pulling another song off of her debut Apple LP "Postcard", an original was written and then a demo was recorded for her.
The name of the song is "Goodbye". The demo consists of Paul on acoustic guitar and vocals. The song was most likely recorded at Paul's home in London on his own recording equipment from 7 Cavendish Avenue in London. The tape was most likely brought over to Dick James' Nothern Song publishing offices and was pressed on an acetate.
The acetate came under the hammer and sold at an auction back in 1981. As a result of this, the demo can be heard on bootlegs such as "File Under: The Beatles" (LP) and "Not For Sale"(LP and CD) as well as "Acetates" (CD). I remember when the "Anthology" series was commercially released and there was a discussion with other fans about why this particular demo was not on those disc - probably due to the fact that it was technically a solo performance. The song is credited to "Lennon/McCartney" although it is obviously a Paul song.
The commercial single with full band was released on April 07 1969 as Apple 1806. "Goodbye" was the A-side and "Sparrow" being the B-side. Both labels have full Apples. It came in a nice picture sleeve with a tear running down Mary's cheek. An excellent coupling.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The "Get Back/Let It Be" Project January 31 1969

On January 31 1969, The Beatles descended downstairs in the basement of Apple Studios for the last true session of the "Get Back/Let It Be" saga. This day was spent recording songs on film for the cameras and for the soundtrack of the film as well.
Three songs were scheduled to be recorded; namely "Two Of Us", "The Long and Winding Road" and "Let It Be". The first song would be performed by The Beatles with John and Paul on acoustic guitars while the other two would have the addition of Billy Preston on organ while Paul played piano.
"Two Of Us" was up first. Take 11 (all songs started with take 10 for the benefit of the cameras) was used on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be" as well as on the "Let It Be...Naked" LP/CD (with an improved mix). The "Let It Be" film included an edit of both take 11 and the end of take 12.
Once this wrapped up, the instrumental section was changed and Billy Preston was added to try a few takes of "The Long And Winding Road" as well as rehearsal of "Let It Be" although there was no used footage of these takes.
Once the Beatles and crew completed their lunch break, more takes of the piano songs were recorded. After fooling around musically with "Lady Madonna", The Beatles take 19 of "The Long and Winding Road" is captured on film was eventually released on the final "Let It Be" film and in a different improved mix for the Apple/EMI "Let It Be...Naked LP/CD. ( A take from an earlier January 26 session was used on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be".)
Finally, the third song recorded was the eventual title track "Let It Be". The film uses one of the choruses from take 24, although the main body of the song seen in the film comes from take 27A. Lastly, the entire performance of take 27B (the last take) was marked as best and used - with later overdubs in April 1969 and January 1970 - on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be" as well as a different mix and overdubs for the Apple/EMI LP/CD "Let It Be...Naked".