Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Over Men And Horses Hoops And Garters

The last song on side one of the most influential Beatles LP of all time (Parlophone UK LP "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John entitled "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!". The song was inspired by a circus poster that was purchased at an antiques shop in Sevenoaks, Kent, England. The Beatles were filming a promotional film (music video now-a-days) near Sevenoaks in Knole Park. The circus poster was printed in 1843. It announced that Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal would be presenting a night of entertainment and the whole production would be for the "benefit of Mr. Kite". The circus poster's announcement contained most of the lyrics that would be used in the song.

The basic track for the song started on Friday February 17 1967 at EMI studio two and instruments played for the basic track consisted of harmonium, bass and drums. Tambourine and a vocal by John were also added at the same time as the other instruments. Takes 1 and 2 of this particular instrumental/vocal line-up can be heard on the EMI/Apple 3-LP/2CD "Anthology 2". Seven takes of the basic track were required. A reduction of the four tracks was completed thereby taking us to takes 8 and 9. John Lennon added his lead vocals onto take 09. A mono mix of the song as it stood was made and the acetate of the mix was cut.

Three days later on February 20 1967 in EMI studio three, it was decided that a steam organ should be added to the already basic track. Since no steam organs were available, it was decided by George Martin to round up tapes of already recorded material which featured sounds similar to the steam organ and these sounds were put on recording tape, chopped up with a razor blade at random and re-assembled. This early version of a tape collage was performed on this day.

"Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!" was subject to the next series of overdubs over a month later on March 28 1967 at EMI studio two. Included in the instrumentation on this session were John on the organ and (at the beginning) harmonica of various sized. The middle of the song had tambourine , another organ and also George Martin playing chromatic runs while the tape ran at half speed.

A day later on March 29 1967 at EMI studio two, the harmonicas and the organ got some more overdubs as John and George Harrison played bass harmonicas and the organ was overdubbed in the last portion of the song. Also added on this session were the chopped up steam organ sounds.

The last overdubs for the song was conducted on Friday March 31 1967. These consisted of the organ and the glockenspiel added at the very end of the song. The song was mixed for mono upon completion of the overdubs and seven attempts were completed. The fourth attempt was used on the commercial mono version.

The stereo mix for the song was conducted on Friday April 07 1967 from the control room of EMI studio two. There were eight attempts at the stereo mix and the last mix was used for the commercial stereo version. There are not too many differences in the mono and stereo mix although some of the sound levels are ever so slightly louder of softer. Nothing major, though.

"Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!" was released on the Parlophone UK LP/CD "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" as well as being released on the North American Capitol LP of the same name. The song was also available on the picture disc released in both countries in the late 1970s. A mash-up containing the song was also released on the EMI/Apple 2-LP/CD mix of "Love".

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