Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Man I Was Mean But I'm Changing My Scene


The next song on side one of the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" Parlophone UK LP was an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by Paul and entitled "Getting Better". The inspiration for the song came from a session musician who had been hired by Brian Epstein and George Martin in 1964 who was named Jimmy Nicol. Mr. Nicol was a drummer and filled in for Ringo while the Beatles started their European and Australian tour. Ringo was hospitalized at the time while "the boys" were out of the country. One of the phrases that Mr. Nicol would used when asked by the press how things were going was "It's getting better !". This phrase came back to McCartney and the song was written around it. The contrast between Mr. McCartney's optimism and the cynicism portrayed by Mr. Lennon has been mentioned often in Paul interviews: "It's Getting Better All The Time/ It Can't Get No Worse" !

The basic track for "Getting Better" was started on Thursday March 09 1967 at EMI studio two. Ringo played his drums while Paul played the bass and sang a guide vocal. George Harrison added rhythn guitar while George Martin played a pianette but plucked the strings with a guitar pick rather than use the keyboard. Seven takes were required to perfect the basic track which was then subjected to more drums replacement the original drums. Four reduction takes were required as all four tracks were bounced down to a new tape and onto track one.

The next day on Friday March 10 1967 also from EMI studio two, Paul's bass was added to one of the tracks while George Harrison played a drone tone on the tamboura and Ringo added some drums once again.

The song was picked up again a week and a half later on March 21 1967 in EMI studio two obstensibly to record the back up vocals and main vocals. The first task was to reduce the four tracks into two with the previous instrumental recordings. The backing vocals were then completed but the main vocals were discarded due to the fact that John Lennon had accidently ingested LSD and ended up tripping in the studio. March 21 1967 also saw Beatles' former engineer bringing a new band he was engineering into studio two to meet the Beatles. The new band's name was The Pink Floyd.

The last session for "Getting Better" took place two days later on March 23 1967 once again from EMI studio two where the main vocals were finally completed. The tape was again reduced from three tracks to two now taking the song to take 15. On this take, percussion (bongos and handclaps) as well as piano and guitar were added to the song. Once this was finished, three mono mixes were conducted from EMI studio two and the third mix was used for the commercial release.

The stereo mix for "Getting Better" was completed on Monday April 17 1967 from the control room of Studio two. There are no major differences between the commercial mono mix and the stereo mix.

"Getting Better" appears on the Parlophone UK LP/CD "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" as well as the North American Capitol LP of the same name. The song also appears on the UK and North American versions of the "Pepper" picture disc released in the late 1970s (see previous entries for catalogue numbers).

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