The next great tune from the great Parlophone UK LP "Revolver" is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John entitled "I'm Only Sleeping". A pretty melody with a stop-and-go feel to the song. This song also features a very,very cool guitar solo and inserts recorded forward by George and worked out to fit the tune as the recording tape is played backwards.
The first attempt at a backing track for the Lennon song was conducted on Wednesday April 27 1966 at EMI studio three. Two acoustics, bass and drums were recorded and it took eleven takes to perfect. Once this was completed, the song was left "as is".
Two days later on April 29 1966, the Beatles were once again in studio three and decided to try a re-make of "I'm Only Sleeping". During the rehearsal of the song, different instrumentation was used including vibes and it was recorded although not "taked". A few minutes of the rehearsal version can be heard on the Apple/EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2". After rehearsal, it was decided to remake the backing and five takes (only one complete) were attempted with Lennon singing along. The complete take (the first of the five) is also heard on the Apple/EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2".
After listening to the original backing track and listening to the recent backing track, the Beatles decided to go to the original backing track recorded on April 27 and John Lennon added vocals to this backing track (take 11) on April 29. The backing track was recorded with the tape playing at a fast speed so that the commercial backing track plays back slower on playback. The vocals were recorded at a slower speed making Lennon's voice sound slightly faster on playback. Experimentation for tape speed would continue throughout the Beatles psychedelic phase.
On Thursday May 05 1966, the backwards guitar was added by George Harrison. It was decided that the guitar would be read with notation forwards, but writing it out backwards so that it would come out back to front and the sound would remain the same. It was a very difficult thing to do but they somehow managed and the guitar work is excellent throughout the song. The backwards guitar session was also held at EMI studio three.
Finally, the next day (May 06 1966), a tape reduction of tracks was completed and John Lennon double tracked some lead vocals, while Paul and George overdubbed background vocals. There were four mono remixes done for the "I'm Only Sleeping" at this session as well. All was done at EMI studio two. None of these mono mixes were used.
The first true mono mix was done on Thursday May 12 1966 from the control room of EMI studio three. This mono mix was completed especially for the North American market and can be heard on original mono copies of the Capitol LP "Yesterday...and Today". The first press copies of the stereo LP also contains this mix in fake stereo. It can be assessed by noting that the backwards guitar is faded up three times compared to four times on other mixes with one exception.
On Friday May 20 1966 from the control room of EMI studio one, two stereo remixes of "I'm Only Sleeping" were completed. The first stereo remix was sent to Capitol records where it was included on later copies of the "Yesterday...And Today" LP while the second remix was included on the Parlophone version of the "Revolver" LP. Both stereo mixes have the backwards guitar faded up four times. Finally, "I'm Only Sleeping" was mixed in mono (for the UK version of "Revolver") on Monday June 06 1966 from the control room of EMI studio three. Two mono mixes were attempted and this time ( and the only time) the backwards guitar is faded up five times - the exception.
"I'm Only Sleeping" is available on the Parlophone UK LP "Revolver" and is also to be found on the North American Capitol LP "Yesterday...And Today". The song is also featured on the Capitol LP version of "Rarities" which uses the UK stereo mix.