The A side of the first single released by The Beatles in 1968 was an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by Paul entitled "Lady Madonna". The subject of the song consisted of a tribute to women raising children. This underrated song is a great boogie type piano song and is often overlooked in the singles canon of the Beatles catalogue. It was decided in the first two months of the year to have a single release in March for the Beatles as they would be off to India with no particular return time frame. "Lady Madonna" was the last single released on the original Parlophone/Capitol labels during the Beatles' active career.
The recording of "Lady Madonna" started on Saturday February 03 1968 at EMI studio three. The basic track consisted of three takes featuring Paul on the piano and Ringo on drums (using the brushes instead of the sticks). After the third take was completed and considered the best, overdubs of Paul's bass guitar, Ringo on drums again (this time using his sticks) and John and George on distorted electric guitars was completed. On the last track of the four track tape went Paul's lead vocal and the backing vocals of John and George.
Three days later on February 06 1968 at EMI studio one the four track was reduced with the previously overdubbed bass, electric guitars and drums all put on one track. This took the song to take four. Once this was completed, the piano part was thickened by overdubbing the similar notes over the existing ones, as well as overdubbing of handclaps, Paul's second vocal and the backing noises of an imitation brass of John, Paul and George. A tambourine was shook during the process and a bit of organ during the "See How They Run" section was also added.
It was decided by Paul at some point during the session that real brass was needed. The four track was once again reduced which now took the song to take 05. Added onto the empty track were four saxophones. Ronnie Scott played the lead on the commercial version of the song. Also at this session, the song was mixed for mono with two attempts and the second one eventually being discarded. A rough stereo mix of take 4 before the saxes were added can be heard on the vinyl bootleg "Ultra Rare Trax, Volumes 5 and 6". A stereo mix with the instruments faded up and down including the brass from take 5 is available on the Apple/EMI/Capitol 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2".
"Lady Madonna" was mixed for mono (8 attempts from take 5) on Thursday February 15 1968 in the control room of EMI studio three. Since this was a single only, there was no need for a stereo mix.
Almost two years later on Tuesday December 02 1969 from the control room of EMI studio two, "Lady Madonna" was finally given it's stereo mix. Only one attempt at the stereo mix was performed. The main reason at the time of the mix was so that it could be released in North America for a compilation LP on Apple planned by Allen Klein (Hey Jude/The Beatles Again).
"Lady Madonna" is available originally as a single in the UK (Parlophone R 5675) and in North America (Capitol 2138). A picture sleeve was issued for the North American release. some copies of the single in North American came with a Fan Club application.
"Lady Madonna" is also available on the North American only Apple LP "Hey Jude/The Beatles Again" (although re-issued by Parlophone in the UK in 1979 as PCS 7184) as well as the worldwide Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970". The song is also available on the UK Parlophone LP version of "The Beatles 20 Greatest Hits" as well as the EMI/Apple/ Capitol 2-LP/CD "Past Masters Volume Two" and the Apple 2-LP/CD "1" along with the Apple 2-CD "Mono Masters" remasters as well as the EMI/Apple 2-CD "Past Masters" in the stereo remasters.
A live version of the song can be heard by Wings and is available on the EMI/Capitol 3-LP/3-CD "Wings Over America". Another performance by Paul in 1993 can be heard ont he EMI/Capitol 2-LP/CD "Paul Is Live".