Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chop The Tree

The next song to appear on side one of the "Yellow Submarine" Apple LP/CD is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written especially for the film mainly by Paul. It is a call and response type song entitled "All Together Now". The song appears twice in the film and it is also the song that features live action un-animated Beatles at the end of the film. The recording and mono mixing of this tune was done fairly quickly.

Nine basic takes were recorded at EMI Studio two on Friday May 12 1967. This was probably just Paul and George on the acoustics, Ringo keeping time on drums and percussion and John Lennon playing a harmonica. The ninth take was kept as the best one and the overdubs for this tune included: Paul on bass guitar and vocal, John and George on backing vocals, bass drum and finger cymbals as well as handclapping and chorus singing by all. This was achieved at one single session and there was no need for tape reduction of the four track tape. Once the master was completed, six attempts at a mono mix were completed from the control room of studio two. The final mono mix (remix 6) would not be officially released until it appeared on the Beatles Apple/EMI 2-CD "Mono Masters" in 2009.

On Wednesday November 15 1967, a tape copy of the mono mix of "All Together Now" was completed from the control room of EMI studio two and given to the film producers for use in the movie.

The stereo mix for "All Together Now" took place on Tuesday October 29 1968 from the control room of EMI studio three. This stereo mix was released commercially while the fold down version of this mix appeared on the PMC LP version in the UK.

"All Together Now" appears on the Apple LP/CD "Yellow Submarine" and a remixed version of the stereo spectrum appears on the 1999 Apple/EMI LP/CD "Yellow Submarine Songtrack".

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It Doesn't Really Matter What Chords I Play

The first new song on the "Yellow Submarine" soundtrack LP/CD after the title track is an original George Harrison composition entitled "Only A Northern Song" which was originally intended to be included on the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" LP but was eventually scrapped in favour of another Harrisong: "Within You Without You". Some of the books I own in my collection tell the tale of "Only A Northern Song" being written in one hour while the London Symphone Orchestra were awaiting to leave the studio to go home. This is all bullshit. The song was written for "Pepper" and the basic tracks for the song were recorded by the Beatles (with no orchestra) in 1967. The song is a comment on how George Harrison was a contracted songwriter for the Dick James/John Lennon/Paul McCartney/Brian Epstein music publishing company "Northern Songs" at the time as he recieved only a small percentage of any profits from his songs. George Harrision would later form his own company; "Harrisongs".

At any rate, the basic tracks for this song were started on February 13 1967 at EMI studio two whereby Organ, drums and percussion were used to complete nine takes (only four were complete). The best of these (take 3) were kept.

The next day on February 14 1967 once again at EMI studio two, three tape reductions were attempted and completed taking the song to take 12. Upon this take, George Harrision overdubbed his lead vocals. Three mono mixes of the song at this stage were completed for demo purposes.

The song was left dormant at this point, as George Harrison had come up with his other song "Within You Without You" and this was recorded and released on "Pepper" in place of "Only A Northern Song".

Fast forward to April 1967. On April 19 1967, the film producers for "Yellow Submarine" were due to visit the studio the next day so it was decided to retrieve "Only A Northern Song" and a fourth mono demo mix was conducted from the control room of EMI studio two to prepare for the next recording session.

The next day on April 20 1967, at EMI studio two: The Beatles added overdubs to take three of "Only A Northern Song" by first erasing the vocal tracks and bass track and adding a new bass track and glockenspeil and trumpet (played by Paul). This filled up the four track of take three but instead of a tape reduction, the engineers simply pulled out another reduction tape of the song with the basic track also intact and vocals, timpani, piano, mellotron were added to this take . They now had two four track machines: one with the bass and trumpet (take 3) and the other with the vocals and timpani (take 11) with the same basic organ, drum track originally recorded in February 1967.

The idea now was to sync up the two four track machines which thickened the organ and drums and included all of the vocals, bass, timpani, trumpet, mellotron and every else. Once this was completed on April 21 1967 at EMI studio two, eleven attempts at a mono mix were completed. Attempt number 6 was deemed as the best mono mix.

This mono mix was copied on tape for the film producers on November 15 1967 from the control room of EMI studio two.

Finally, the so-called stereo mix of the song was not true stereo: On October 29 1968, the mono mix of the song was used and the treble from one side of the stereo spectrum was raised and on the other side of the stereo spectrum the bass was raised using equalization methods performed in the control room of EMI studio three. No true stereo mix of "Only A Northern Song" existed during the 60s, 70s and 80s due to the fact that the technology did not allow it at the time. The commercial release of the song uses the above "duophonic" mis on the stereo LP/CD of "Yellow Submarine" while the UK mono LP simply uses a "fold down" of the duophonic mix.

"Only A Nothern Song" was finally issued in true stereo on the 1999 "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" LP/CD which isolated parts of take 3 and added the vocals and piano/timpani from take 11.

"Only A Northern Song" was also issued as a creation on the Apple/EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2" whereby the mix used various elements from take 3 (pre-overdub) and vocals from take 12. This mix also appears in stereo.

Finally, a true mono mix of "Only A Northern Song" can be found on the 2009 Apple/EMI 2-CD "Mono Masters" as mix 06 from the above attempts.

Something a little strange: "Only A Northern Song" runs a little slow in the movie compared to the commercial version - in fact almost a semitone lower.

"Only A Northern Song" can be found on the Apple LP/CD "Yellow Submarine".

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yellow Submarine

The eleventh official UK Beatles LP and the sixteenth official North American Beatles LP was entitled "Yellow Submarine".

The UK version was released on January 17 1969 on two catalogue numbers: Apple PMC 7070 and Apple PCS 7070. Although the "PMC" pre-fix of the catalogue number indicated mono, the mixes contained on this version were simply fold-down stereo. In North American, the LP was released on January 13 1969 as Apple SW 153 in stereo.

"Yellow Submarine" is a very strange LP in the body of the Beatles entire catalogue. First off, it was meant to be the soundtrack to the current film "Yellow Submarine". Side one contains only four new Beatles songs, although the songs had been recorded a year or two previously. The title song and "All You Need Is Love" had been previously released on singles during 1966 and 1967 respectively. Side two of the LP saw film music composed and orchestrated by George Martin. The orchestration in the film and the LP both differ. The LP version of George Martin's orchestration were re-recorded after the release of the film in October 1968 at EMI studios.

The LP also contained the new song "Hey Bulldog" which was only featured on the UK film prints at the time and not on the North American film prints. Also; "All Together Now" appears twice in the film and "It's All Too Much" appears heavily and sloppily edited in the film with a verse not heard on the LP version. I'm sure the LP at the time could have been filled with the Beatles music heard in the film such as "When I'm Sixty-Four", "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", "Nowhere Man", etc. It's highest chart position in the UK was number 3 and it's highest chart position in North American was number 2.

The front cover of the LP features the movie designs of Heinz Edelmann with the cartoon characters of the four Beatles on top of a gray mountain (some covers in the US had a darker almost black mountain) surrounded by the animated characters of the film. The title of the LP: "The Beatles Yellow Submarine" had the animated submarine beneath it. In the UK the words "Nothing Is Real" appear between the yellow submarine and the animated Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. These words do not appear on the North American cover. Another difference between the two continents are the words "Selections by the Beatles plus original film music" which only appears on the upper right hand side of the North American front cover of the LP; not in the UK.

The back covers of the LP also differ in both continents: The words "Side One", "Side Two", "The Beatles" and "Original film score composed and orchestrat by George Martin" are written in black on the UK covers but in red on the North American covers. Different font is used on the above words as well. The liner notes are also extremely different. In the UK, the liner notes were by Derek Taylor who included a review of "The Beatles" (White Album) written by Tony Palmer and originally appearing in the London Observer while in North America, the liner notes were written by Dan Davis who composed an short story based on the characters of the "Yellow Submarine" film. Original UK back covers also had red lines between the song titles and liner notes and the Apple logo. North American covers did not have An Apple logo on the back.

In the UK, the vinyl LP came in a back sleeve. Side one had the full Apple on the label while Side two had the half Apple. Both labels had the words "Sold in UK subject to resale price conditions, see price lists". In North America, the records came in a white sleeve or no sleeve with the full Apple on side one and a half Apple on side two.

In 1999, Apple/EMI released the LP/CD "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" which contained 15 Beatles tracks; all of which appeared in the newly-restored film in some form or another. The songs were re-mixed and re-mastered and the audio is quite lovely. More of this release in a later blog.

In 2009, the four new songs from "Yellow Submarine" were finally available in true mono when Apple/EMI released the Mono box set and all four songs are contained on the Apple/EMI 2 CD : "Mono Masters".

"Yellow Submarine" was the very first Beatles' LP I bought and owned ( I still have it).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Close Your Eyes And I'll Close Mine

The final song on the Beatles double Apple 2-LP/2-CD set is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John entitled "Goodnight". John Lennon had written this tender lullaby for his son, Julian. The song is sung on the commercial version by Ringo Starr.

The recording of the song started on Friday June 28 1968 at EMI studio two with only John Lennon and Ringo Starr going over the song and taping some rehearsal takes. Five proper takes were completed with Ringo giving a differenct spoken intro each time. One of these takes appears briefly on the VHS (in mono) and DVD (in stereo) of "The Beatles Anthology" series.

Next, on July 02 1968 and once again in EMI studio two, Ringo re-did his vocal and added some harmony vocal as well to the existing backing. This consisted of takes 6 to 15. The demo was then complete and given to George Martin who took away a tape copy of take 15 in order to score the orchestra.

Finally, on Monday July 22 1968 at EMI studio one, the recording of "Goodnight" started fresh where 12 takes (takes 22 to 34) were completed with an orchestra consisting of 12 violins, 3 violas, 3 Cellos, a harp, 3 flutes, a clarinet, a horn, vibes and string bass. There were also a backing chorus of 4 girls and 4 boys from the Mike Sammes Singers group - their second appearance on a Beatles recording; the previous being "I Am The Walrus". The orchestra was taped first and then the chorus was overdubbed and finally Ringo Starr sang his lead vocal.

"Goodnight" was mixed for mono the next day on July 23 1968 from the control room of Studio two. Six attempts at a mono mix were completed but none were used for the final commercial version.

Another attempt at a mono mix was done on October 11 1968 from the control room of EMI studio two. There were two remixes and the second was chosen for the commercial release. The stereo mix was also completed at this session. There are subtle differences in the volume of the channels between the mono mix and the stereo mix.

An early demo of "Goodnight" crossfaded onto the commerical stereo mix is available on the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 3".

"Goodnight" is available on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles" (White Album).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

You Become Naked

Revolution number 09...number 09...number 09... credited to Lennon/McCartney but created mainly by John and Yoko, "Revolution 9" is more of a sound collage rather than a song or tune. The piece was mainly taken from the May 30 1968 "Revolution 1" session where improvisation at the end of the main body was taken and kept for the future sound collage. It is one of the longest "Beatles" tracks although most of the creation and assembly was developed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

The assembly of the sound effects started on Thursday June 06 1968. It is not clear exactly which sound board they worked from, but a session was held in EMI studio two on that day so this may be from the control room of that studio. Twelve effects were compiled on this day.

Four days later on Monday June 10 1968 in the control room of Studio three, more sound effects were compiled by John Lennon.

The next day on Tuesday June 11 1968, John Lennon once again worked in the control room of EMI studio three in order to compile even more sound effects using his original work as well as finding various sound effect from the effects room at Abbey Road.

On Thursday June 20 1968 from all three of EMI's studios ( one, two and three); the final assembly of all the sound effects were being compiled for the master version of "Revolution 9". Also added at this session were John Lennon and George Harrison's voices saying ramdom things and inserted along with the existing tape loops and sound effects.

The next day on June 21 1968 from the control room of EMI studio two, the master version was given two stereo mixes with the second mix being used for the commercial release.

Four days later on June 25 1968 from the control of EMI studio two once again, the stereo mix for "Revolution 9" was edited from just over nine minutes to just over eight minutes. A tape copy for John and for Apple were also completed at this session.

Oddly, rather than remix "Revolution 9" for mono, a stereo tape of the collage was taken on August 20 1968 from EMI studio three and copied onto a tape in mono simply by folding down the stereo image. This basically means that there are absolutely no differences between the stereo and mono mix of the track.

Six days later on August 26 1968 from the control room of EMI studio two, another mono attempt was completed and improved upon although the same treatment of taking the stereo master and tape copying the mix by folding it down to mono was applied. This final mono attempt was the one used on the commercial track.

"Revolution 9" is available on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles" (White Album).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

She's Old Enough To Know Better

The next song on the Apple 2-lp/2-CD release "The Beatles" (White Album) is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John entitled "Cry Baby Cry". This was written in the form of a nursery ryhme and the lyrics were also inspired by a television commercial in which the tag line was something like "Make your mother buy". It's mainly acoustic number with a very haunting Lennon vocal.

There were tons of rehearsal for this fairly simplistic song which was carried out on Monday July 15 1968 at EMI studio two. The Beatles filled up four 30 minute tape reels with (according to Lewisohn) approximately 30 un-numbered takes.

The next evening session saw the Beatles tackling the song once again only this time actually numbering and recording proper takes. The session took place on July 16 1968 once again in EMI studio two with 10 takes being performed and the last one being used as the commercial version. The instrumentation for the takes appear to be John on acoustic/organ and vocal, Paul on the bass and Ringo on drums. Take 1 from this session appearson the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 3"( as well as it's promotion equivalent catalogue number DPRO 7087). Two reduction mixes of the four track were completed bringing the song to take 12. Upon this take, piano played by John and harmonium played by George Martin filled up the two tracks leaving one track which would be filled with another overdub later.

Finally, two day later on July 18 1968 from EMI studio two, the vocal by John and the backing vocal harmony by Paul were added, George Martin re-did his harmonium work, Ringo added tambourine and George Harrison added his lead guitar parts. This concluded the track and mixing was all that was left to do.

Interestingly, on September 17 1968 from the control room of EMI studio two, a tape copy of the four track master of "Cry Baby Cry" was copied onto eight track for future overdubbing although this never happened.

On Tuesday October 15 1968 from the control room of EMI studio two, both the stereo and mono mixing of the song was completed. Both mixes were derived from the four track master. Three attempts of the stereo mix was required while only one attempt was required for the mono mix. There are no major differences between the two mixes.

"Cry Baby Cry" is available on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles" (White Album). A truly lovely deep track.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Ginger Sling With A Pineapple Heart

The next song on the fantastic Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles" (White Album) is an original George Harrison composition entitled "Savoy Truffle". This song was inspired by the fact that Eric Clapton at the time had an immense sweet tooth and this led to George writing the lyrics essentially derived from a box of MacIntosh's "Good News" chocolates.

The song was begun at Trident Studios in St. Anne's Court, London on October 03 1968. John Lennon played no role in the recording of the song. The basic track for "Savoy Truffle" included George on guitars, Paul on bass and Ringo on drums. I'm sure there were several attempts although typical of this studio, the basic track was labelled "take 1".

Two days later once again at Trident Studios on October 05 1968, the vocals were overdubbed onto the basic track with George singing the lead and Paul harmonizing the background vocals.

The master tape was then brought over to Abbey Road where six saxophones were overdubbed onto the basic track. The recording took place on October 11 1968 from EMI studio two. The sax arrangement was written by Chris Thomas.

Finally on October 14 1968 again from EMI studio two, the final overdubs for the song included Chris Thomas playing the electric piano and the organ, the lead guitar solo from George and percussion played probably by Paul (Ringo was not present for this session). It is noting that this date and this recording session was the last recording (not mixing) session for the Beatles double White album. "Savoy Truffle" was mixed for both mono and stereo once the final overdubs had been completed. Six attempts at the mono mix and two attempts at the stereo mix were completed and ready for commercial release.

There are differences between the mono and stereo mix. The lead guitar solo has additional notes on the stereo and end differently on both mixes. Also, the organ is present in the last verse of the stereo mix but seems to have been faded down for the mono mix. The overall sound of the song sounds better in mono than stereo as stereo has a lopsided instrument placement to my ears.

"Savoy Truffle" is available on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles" White Album. A very nice deep track and an underated tune from Mr. Harrison.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sail Across The Atlantic

The next song on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD release is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly Paul entitled "Honey Pie". This is a bit of a 20s style jazzy tune with a lot of clarinet and corny vaudeville music-hall type of stuff that you would hear in the theatres during the war in the earler part of the 20th century. An early demo from the "Esher" session of May 1968 can be heard on the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 3".

"Honey Pie" was recorded at Trident Studios in St. Anne's Court, London on Tuesday October 01 1968. There was a lot of rehearsal before the basic track was recorded and named take 01. The instruments used on the basic consisted of Paul on the piano, George on bass and John on electric guitar. Ringo on drums, of course. Once the basic track was completed, a rough mix of the song was put made for George Martin in order to have the arrangement completed for the brass.

The next day on Wednesday October 02 1968, Paul McCartney added his lead vocal and another guitar overdubbed by John Lennon onto the basic track. Once again this took place at Trident Studios.

Two days later on Friday October 04 1968 again at Trident Studios in London; work continued on "Honey Pie" via the addition of seven session musicians adding saxophones and clarinets to the track. As a final overdub, Paul McCartney added the spoken line: "Now she's hit the big time" recorded through a filter to make it sound like it came out of a 78 rpm record playing on a grammaphone. The recording was completed at this session

The next day on Saturday October 05 1968 from the control room at Trident Studios "Honey Pie" was mixed for mono and for stereo both completed in one remix take.

Two days later, the mon and stereo mixes were tape copied at EMI studio two from the control room and the commercial versions were now completed. The mono version of the song has the Lennon guitar solo lasting a few seconds longer than the stereo version of the song.

"Honey Pie" is available on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles" (White Album).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Don't You Know That You Could Count Me Out - In

The first song on side four of the Apple vinyl record version of "The Beatles"(White Album) is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John entitled "Revolution 1". This tune was the first song recorded for the LP project at the end of May 1968. The original title for the work was simply "Revolution" but this was changed after a second, rockier harder version was recorded and released as the B-side to "Hey Jude" (see blog entry for details).

This version featured a more acoustic/brass sound. It is also played slower. Out of the recordings for "Revolution 1" came some ad libbing at the end of the takes which would later be featured on the "Revolution 9" sound collage.

The recording of "Revolution 1" was started on Thursday May 30 1968 at EMI studio two with the basic tracks. The instrumentation on this session included acoustic guitar, piano and drums. It took 18 takes to construct the basic track. Take 18 included a John Lennon guide vocal. Take 18 also consisted of an extended instrumentational jam at the end of the song which became the inspiration for "Revolution 9".

The next day on Friday May 31 1968 at EMI studio three, John Lennon overdubbed double tracked vocals while Paul added his bass guitar. This four track was reduced and the background "doo-wop" vocals were added.

The work resumed four days later at EMI studio three on June 04 1968 with John Lennon re-doing his vocals while lying down on the studio floor. A lot of experimentation took place this day including Paul and George singsing background vocals repeating the words "mama" and "dada" as well as tape loops being dropped in. Two loops included a high backing vocal of "aaahhh" while the other was a high guitar note distorted and repeated throughout the song. This was all reduced to take 20. Another drum track and percussion, a tone guitar by John and organ by Paul were also overdubbed. Once this was complete, a mono mix was quickly completed and copied to tape for use by John Lennon. There is a bootleg with take 20 as it stands with the experiments, tape loops and the extended version - none of which are present on the commercial version of the song.

The recording of "Revolution 1" was completed on June 21 1968 with the overdubbing of two trumpets and four trombones by session musicians once a reduction mix of the song was completed which brought the song to take 21 and 22. This was the third reduction of the four track tape. The brass replaced the experimentation and tape loops previously recorded for the tune. George Harrison then overdubbed the distorted lead guitar present especially just before the first verse of the song.

"Revolution 1" was mixed for stereo in seven attempt first on June 21 1968 (after the completion of the final overdubs) at EMI studio two. This was improved upon four days later on June 25 1968 with five more attempts. The final attempt was used on the commercial version. These were done in the control room of EMI studio two. I have not seen any documentation as to when the mono mix(es) were attempted and completed. The mono mix is slightly longer on the recording than the stereo mix.

"Revolution 1" is available on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles"(White Album).