Saturday, October 20, 2018

"Instant Karma" (We All Shine On)

The song "Instant Karma (We all Shine On) was written by John Lennon on the morning of January 27 1970 and in the next 24 hours, the song would not only be written, but also recorded and mixed for commercial release. The song was produced by none other than Phil Spector who (according to John and George) did such an amazing job that he would be given the "Get Back/Let It Be" tapes and would also go on to produce several of John and George's future Apple LPs.
The song was started at John's Tittenhurst Park home on an upright piano located on the first floor. John then traveled to the Apple building on Savile Row in London to complete the song on a piano ordered from a music store and delivered to his office (although there was already a piano located in the basement of the Apple building in the studio, but ...hey). Abbey Road studio was booked that afternoon for an evening session.
The basic tracks were recorded with the following personnel: John on acoustic, George on electric, Klaus Voorman on bass, Alan White on drums and Billy Preston on electric piano. A decision was made to scrap the guitars and use keyboard instead so overdubbed on take 10 of the basic track were Klaus Voorman and John on electric piano and George Harrison and Alan White on acoustic piano. Mal Evans added chimes to accent the chorus words while Phil Spector produced and Phil MacDonald engineered. John added his vocal but wanted a choir in the background for the chorus; Mal Evans was dispatched to find random volunteers and they were brought in from a nightclub to complete the recording. The volunteers also clapped along and a tambourine was also added to the madness.
The song was mixed for stereo overnight (the fourth mix was used for commercial release). Mal Evans brought the tape over to the Apple Studios to get it mastered and the song would be released as an Apple single on February 06 1970 and made the charts as well. Number 3 in the US and number 4 in the UK. Not bad for a song recorded in literally one day.
Apart from the single you can also find the song on the LP/CD "Lennon Legend".

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Sentimental Journey

"Sentimental Journey" is the title song of Ringo's very first solo LP. The song was arranged by Ringo's future producer Richard Perry. Richard and Ringo would not meet for a few years yet but Richard would eventually work with Ringo on several recordings and LPs including "Ringo" and "Goodnight Vienna" in the early 1970s.
The orchestral backing for "Sentimental Journey" was completed in late 1969 although I cannot find an exact date and the tape was sent to London. Ringo's vocal - double tracked at various times throughout the middle eight - was recorded at Olympic Sound Studios in London on the evening of January 14 1970.
The song was mixed in stereo at Abbey Road (as it was now being called - formerly EMI Studios) a week later on January 20 1970.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

"For You Blue" Overdub and Mixes

The George Harrison song "For You Blue" was originally a feature on the Glyn Johns tape line up on the latest attempt of the "Get Back/Let It Be" sessions. A copy was given to each Beatle and George Harrison decided at some point that he didn't like his lead vocal and that he would overdub a new vocal.
On January 08 1970, this was accomplished in the evening. The studio used for this overdub was at Olympic Studios in Barnes, England. George also ad-libbed his way through the slide and piano solos and the song ends with George saying "Rhythm and Blues".... The song at this point and on the same evening was mixed by Glyn Johns and overdub became the official vocal.
Later in the year on February 28, and for some unknown reason, Malcolm Davies over at EMI re-mixed the song once again. This was not used.
Finally, a month later Phil Spector came in and re-mixed the song once again in stereo for the "Let It Be" project. After the acoustic guitar intro, the instrument disappears and emphasis is on the piano, John's slide and the drums with the new vocal centered. This final mix by Spector would be used on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be".

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Enhanced "Let It Be"

There are two versions of "Let It Be". One is the Glyn Johns Mix and is available on the Apple 45 single, the "1967-1970" compilation as well as the "Past Masters" compilation. The second version and different Phil Spector mix (with a different guitar solo from George) was commercially released on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be".
On January 04 1970, with Paul, Linda, George and Ringo present the enhancement of the song was recorded by adding some brass overdubs, some cellos (not heard but "felt" on the second mix). Other overdubs included Paul replacing the first version's bass playing which was originally played by John. Two significant overdubs were also added: Some high backing vocals from Paul, George and Linda (the only time Linda appears singing on a Beatles record) as well as a heavy distorted guitar solo from George replacing the tremolo solo on the first version. Percussion overdubs included maracas and extra drum fills at the end during the descending riff (on which Paul added a rhodes piano to double the grand piano).
All of this can be heard on the Phil Spector mix from the LP. Another significant difference is the fact that the end of the song is edited in order to add another pass at the final chorus just before the end riff. There is also a tape delay on the high-hats added during the second verse on the second version.
So there you have it: first version (Glyn Johns mix) with the tremolo guitar solo, shorter song, minimal backing vocals, no brass, no Linda) and second version (heavy guitar, additional chorus, backing vocals with Linda, brass, maracas, Rhodes piano at the end).

Saturday, September 8, 2018

"I Me Mine" Recording Session.

During 1969 and going into 1970, work continued on editing the upcoming "Let It Be" film and it was decided to have the recordings reflect the soundtrack heard on the film. This is why the song "Teddy Boy" was eventually dropped from the soundtrack line up and "Across The Universe" was added. The only song missing that was not professionally recorded at Apple or elsewhere was the George Harrison song: "I Me Mine".
So it is that George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr gathered in Studio 2 of EMI in London to complete the recording of the song. John Lennon was in Denmark at this time, so he didn't join the group for this session. George Martin was present as well as the engineer Phil McDonald (who also worked on "Abbey Road). Glyn Johns was also present but had no role in the actual recording of the song.
It took 16 takes to get the song right with George on acoustic, Paul on bass and Ringo on drums. George also sang a guide vocal during the takes. Take sixteen was used as the basic track.
Overdubs include electric piano and hammond organ being played by Paul, more acoustic and lead guitar by George as well as a new lead vocal (doubled and assisted by Paul in the chorus). There are a few mixes out there besides the official one: two days after the recording Glyn Johns mixed the song in stereo (pre-editing) whereby he used the count-in from a different take and adding some chat at the beginning of the track. Another version includes the count - in and take announcement from the original take 16 - this can be found on the "File Under" Beatles vinyl bootleg or on the CD bootleg "Acetates".
There is also a version of the song for the Apple 3 LP/2 CD "Anthology 3" which uses some dialogue recorded before take 15 from George commenting on the absence of John and the song is remixed bringing down the keyboards and bringing up George's electric guitar. This version is also pre-edit.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Live At The Lyceum

There was a concert organized to benefit the charity organization UNICEF that announced there would be an appearance by John, Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band. The concert would take place at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on December 15 1969. Geoff Emerick from EMI was asked to record some of the concert on four track tape for possible release.
The main reason for the concert was to promote both the "War Is Over" John and Yoko campaign as well as promoting the latest Apple single "Cold Turkey"/"Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow". The members of the band contacted were Eric Clapton, Kalus Voorman and Alan White but Eric Clapton decided to bring some of the members of the Delaney and Bonnie Band with him including George Harrison, Delaney Bramlett, Bonnie Bramlett, Jim Gordon, Billy Preston, Bobby Keys and even Keith Moon was on hand among others !!
The recording consisted of the entire crew bashing away on both sides of the single with the original B-Side (Don't Worry Kyoko) lasting over 40 minutes as a jam session. The song as released is heavily edited.
Stereo mixes of the two songs were prepared two days later on December 17 but they were deemed not good enough for release.
In October 1971 during the "Happy Xmas" session at the Record Plant East in New York City, the tapes were brought over and Nicky Hopkins added some keyboards to replace Billy Preston's supposedly "buried" track and some vocals were probably added as well. The original idea was to release the two songs as part of a "Live Jam" LP but plans changed and the tunes were finally released on the bonus Live LP included with the "Sometime In New York City" Apple LP/CD.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Octopus's Garden Re-Mix

In late 1969, it was decided by Yorkshire England's "ITV" television net work to produce a special based on the talents of the Beatles' producer George Martin. The special was recorded at the television studios in mid December and shown on boxing day or on Christmas eve in various areas of the country.
One of the ideas for the show was to have something played by The Beatles which of course could not happen. It was derhcided to have Ringo lip-sync to his latest tune "Octopus's Garden".
Therefore on December 02 1969 at EMI Studio, the original multi-track tape was pulled out and put on the reel. The original drums and rhythm guitar were pulled from the tape and shifted to one channel of the stereo spectrum. The other side of the stereo spectrum contained some of the vocal overdub and some of the bubbling effect. As a quick aside, December 02 was also the day both "Lady Madonna" and "Rain" were mixed in stereo for the eventual "Hey Jude" compilation Apple LP to be released the following year.
On December 08 1969, this new version with drums/guitar was played while fresh bass, piano, lead guitar was added to the tune by unknown session musicians. Ringo simply added his new vocal as well to lip-sync on the show and the song was mixed on twin track tape after 10 takes. The tape was taken away by one of the production members for the television special.
I have not heard this particular version although it has been released in various forms on CDR.