Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sitting On A Cornflake Waiting For The Van to Come.

The next song on the marvellous Capitol LP/CD "Magical Mystery Tour" is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John entitled "I Am The Walrus". The subtitle on the inner cover of the LP stating "(No You're Not) said Little Nicolas".

The exceptional tune is a highlight and one of my favourites. It encapulates the times and I must say I really enjoy the strings and vocals arranged by George Martin. This is probably one of the finest psychedelic songs ever written. A great tune, excellent lead vocal by John and great playing by The Beatles. A classic.

"I Am The Walrus" began life on Tuesday September 05 1967 at EMI studio one. The basic track was recorded which consisted of Ringo on the drums, George on guitar, John on electric piano and Paul initially playing the bass (later switching to tambourine). There were sixteeen takes recorded and the last one was considered best. Only five takes were complete.

The next day on Wednesday September 06 1967 at EMI studio two, a reduction mix was completed into take 17. Onto this were overdubbed the bass guitar by Paul and some extra drums by Ringo. The fantastic lead vocal was also overdubbed at this session by John. Once completed, four mono mixes were attempted while one of the mixes was used for the miming of the "Magical Mystery Tour" television special. A version of the song at this stage is available on the Apple/EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2".

Three weeks later on Wednesday September 27 1967 at EMI studio one, overdubs were conducted for 16 more instruments including a clarinet, four cellos, eight violins and three horns. As the overdubs continued, the tape reductions also continued. Seven takes/tape reductions were completed with the orchestra bringing the song to take 24. Once this was complete, the recordings moved to EMI studio two where 16 singers (8 boys and 8 girls) added their backing vocals. The singers were from a singing troupe entitled "The Mike Sammes Singers" and they were instructed to sing the "Ho-ho-ho, hee-hee-hee- ha-ha-ha" as well as the "Got one, got one, everybody's got one" and "Oompah, oompah, stick it up your jumper" (both of the last lines sung at the same time).

On September 28 1967 "I Am The Walrus" was edited after a reduction mix (bringing the song to take 25) and four attempts at a mono mix were completed with the last mono mix being deemed for commercial use (although in the end this didn't happen).

The next day on September 29 1967, 17 more mono mixes were attempted as John Lennon had decided to add a live radio feed during the mixing stage. It ended up that the radio feel picked up the BBC where a recital of the Shakespeare's play "The Tragedy Of King Lear" was being performed. This was added to the mix and the final mono mix was complete. The radio feel comes in halfway through the song.

On Monday November 06, there were seven attempts at the stereo mix for "I Am The Walrus". Since the live radio feed entered halfway through the song during the mono mix and could not be separated in the mid 60s, this mix is half stereo and half mono. The difference can be heard at about two minutes into the song. Near the end of the fadeout, the mono signal is merely panned left and right

"I Am The Walrus" can be found on the B side of the "Hello Goodbye" single in the UK (Parlophone R 5655) and in North America (Capitol 2056). The song is also on the Parlophone double UK EP "Magical Mystery Tour" as well as the North American Capitol LP/CD "Magical Mystery Tour". The song is also found on the Apple 2-lp/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970" and in North American on the Capitol version of "Rarities" with different edits. "I Am The Walrus" opens side two of the Parlophone/Capitol LP "Reel Music" and is also featured on the Apple/EMI/Capitol "Love" soundtrack.

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