Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trying To Get To Holland Or France

The Beatle's second single of 1969 appears practically one month after the first single ("Get Back"/"Don't Let Me Down"). The two songs on the second single of "The Ballad of John and Yoko" backed with "Old Brown Shoe".

"The Ballad of John and Yoko" is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly John. John Lennon describes his recent activities of the recently married couple (John/Yoko) and the various antics over the past few months. The original working title for the song was "The Ballad of John And Yoko (They're Going To Crucify Me)".

The recording of "The Ballad of John And Yoko" was conducted in one session taking place on Monday April 14 1969 at EMI studio Three. The song was also mixed at this session.

There were 11 takes of the basic track with only two Beatles present: John Lennon playing the acoustic guitar and vocal/ Paul McCartney playing drums. The tenth take was the basic track used for the commercial release. Overdubbed onto the track were John Lennon playing lead guitar, a second lead vocal and the thumping of the back of his acoustic guitar. Paul McCartney added bass, piano, backing vocal and maracas. Once this was complete, five stereo mixes were attempted with the fifth stereo mix being released. For the first time in the UK, "The Ballad Of John And Yoko" was only available in stereo. This track was also the first time a single was released in the UK only in stereo. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), there was no mono mix of "The Ballad Of John And Yoko".

"The Ballad of John And Yoko" was released on Friday May 30 1969 as a single 45 as Apple R 5786 and in North America on June 04 1969 as Apple 2531 (The north american version was issued with a gorgeous picture sleeve). The song can also be found on the Apple LP "Hey Jude/The Beatles Again" as well as the Apple 2-LP/2-CD compilation "The Beatles 1967-1970" and on the EMI compilation LP "The Beatles' 20 Greatest Hits" (UK version only). It is also on the EMI/Capitol 2-LP/CD "Past Masters Volume Two" and is contained on the Apple/EMI 2-CD "Past Masters" from the remastered series.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm In Love For The First Time

The B-side to the great Rock and Roll springtime single from the Beatles in 1969 was an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John (for Yoko) entitled "Don't Let Me Down". This was one of many love songs written by John with his then-girlfriend Yoko Ono in mind.

The performance of "Don't Let Me Down" that was released commercially on the single was recorded at Apple Studios at 3 Savile Row, London on January 28 1969. There was a false start and then a complete take which was the one chosen for the B side. There were a couple of vocal problems, however, and these were probably fixed sometime in February at Trident but it is not clear when and where. The information concerning this song is still sketchy (as is a lot of the "Get Back/Let It Be" numbers) since the exact takes and rehearsals of each individual song is blurry and not clear in most of the books I've read. There is no doubt, though...both "Get Back" and "Don't Let Me Down" definitely come from the above date.

Another problem is knowing exactly when the mixing was done for the mono version of "Don't Let me Down": The "Get Back/Don't Let Me Down" single was released in stereo in the North American market but was released in mono in the rest of the world (including the UK). The information pertaining to "Get Back" is fairly cohesive although the mono mix for "Don't Let Me Down" can be attributed to April 04 1969 (according to John Winn's book) although there is no location and/or it can be simply a mix-down of the stereo mix conducted at Olympic Studios on April 07 1969. Winn's book also claims that the mono mix runs slightly slower although I haven't compared them.

"Don't Let Me Down" can be found on the B-side of the Apple 45 and CD single R5777 (in the UK) and 2490 ( in North America) as well as being on the Apple LP compilation "Hey Jude/The Beatles Again" . It is also on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970". It can be found on the EMI/Capitol 2-LP/CD "Past Master Volume 2" as well as on the Apple/EMI 2-CD "Mono Masters" from the mono box set and the Apple/EMI 2-CD "Past Masters". There is a different mix of both sides of the single available on the Apple/EMI 2-CD/ LP/45 "Let It Be...Naked".

Sunday, September 19, 2010

She Gets It While She Can

The first Apple single release for the year 1969 by the Beatles was an original Lennon/McCartney composition entitled "Get Back" written mainly by Paul.

For all intents and purposes and despite rehearsals at Twickenham during the early days of January 1969, "Get Back" was properly recorded starting on Thursday January 23 1969 at Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London with ten takes (of which none were used). The line up was Paul on vocals and bass, John Lennon on guitar including the lead solo, George Harrison on guitar and Ringo on drums. The addition of Billy Preston on electric piano was also featured on this song.

The next attempt at proper recordings for "Get Back" occured on January 27 1969 once again at Apple Studios. According to Mark Lewisohn's book, 14 attempts were tried and a successful take was used on the "Let It Be" LP version of the song (which will be discussed in a later post).

The single 45 version of "Get Back" was recorded the next day on January 29 1969 once again at Apple Studios and this was the version released as the single (take unknown).

There were four attempts at a mono mix for "Get Back" conducted on March 26 1969 at EMI studios although the studio number is not known. None of these attempts were used on the commercial version of the single.

On April 07 1969 at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, London - there was a final attempt at a mono mix for the single version of "Get Back". The song was also mixed for stereo on the same day and the single was released on April 11 1969 in the UK and May 05 1969 in North America.

The single did not carry a producer's credit on the Apple label due to the fact that both George Martin and Glyn Johns had worked on it jointly.

The North American version of the single was in stereo while the UK version was in mono. Also, the credits for "Get Back" on the Apple label

The artists' credit on the Apple label included the following: "The Beatles with Billy Preston".

"Get Back" is available as a single and this version also appears on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970" as well as the Capitol 2-LP compilation "Rock And Roll Music". It also appears on the Capitol/EMI LP "20 Greatest Hits" and the 2-LP/CD "Past Masters Volume 2" and the Apple/EMI LP-CD "1" and finally on the Apple/EMI 2-CD "Past Masters" from the stereo box set.

"Get Back" has been performed live by Paul McCartney for most of the last tours and a performance of the song can be heard on the Capitol/EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Tripping The Light Fantastic".

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Love That's Shining All Around Me

The last of the new, original Beatles songs featured on the Apple LP/CD "Yellow Submarine" is an original composition written by George Harrison entitled "It's All too Much". This was the longest song on the LP/CD and was originally over 8 minutes long but edited in various forms over the years.

The recording of "It's All too Much" commenced on Thursday May 25 1978 at De Lane Lea Music Recording Studios in London. The basic track and rehearsals were completed on this with the instrumentation of organ, heavy guitar, drums and bass. Once the rehearsals were completed, four takes of the song were recorded with the fourth take kept as the basic track where upon overdubs would be laid (or lied...I'm not sure).

The next day on May 26 1968, once again at De Lane Lea Music Recording Studios, overdubs for this session included the lead vocal by George (who sings a few lines from the Mersey's hit song "Sorrow") and with John and Paul singing backing vocals. Other overdubs for this session included percussion and handclaps.

A week later on Friday June 02 1967 at De Lane Lea Music Recording Studios, four trumpets and a bass clarinet were added to the song. There was no score available for the wood wind musicians and the arrangement was taken care of by George Harrison.

On Thursday October 12 1967, the engineers returned to De Lane Lea Music Recording Studios in order to dust off the master tape of "It's All Too Much" and there were two mono mix attempts with the first attempt kept for the moment.

A month later on November 15 1967 from the control room of EMI studio two, the mono mix was tape copied for the film producers of "Yellow Submarine". This particular session also saw the editing of the original 8 and a bit master tape brought down to just two and a half minutes for the film which included the intro, the first verse, the second chorus, the trumpet bit, the fourth verse, the fifth chorus and the end. The film contained lyrics from a verse that would not appear on the commercial version of the song released on vinyl and CD.

Finally, "It's All Too Much" was remixed once again for mono and stereo on October 16 1968 (almost a year later !) from the control room of EMI studio two. The stereo mix completed at this session was released commercially on the the stereo LP and a fold down mix of the stereo was used for the PMC prefix version of the LP. This particular stereo mix was edited down from the original time of over 8 minutes to just over 6 minutes by editing out the third chours and the fouth verse as well as fading the song out early. The true mono mix was only released commercially in 2009 with the same edits as the stereo mix.

A third mix was completed in order to appear on the 1999 Apple/EMI LP/CD "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" as well as appearing in the film edit mode for the re-release of the VHS/DVD 1999 version of the film.

"It's All Too Much" appears on the Apple LP/CD "Yellow Submarine". The mono mix appearson the Apple/EMI 2-CD "Mono Masters" and a different stereo mix is available on the Apple/EMI LP/CD "Yellow Submarine Songtrack".

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Doing It Again

The next song on side one of the Apple LP/CD "Yellow Submarine" is another original Lennon/McCartney song mainly written by John entitled "Hey Bulldog". A very heavy rocking number and in my opinion, the best song on the album.

The Beatles had been in the recording studio during the month of February 1968 before their departure for India and had completed three songs during these sessions: "Across the Universe", "The Inner Light" and "Lady Madonna". It was decided that "Madonna" would be the next A side of the single so it was decided to film the Beatles in the studio performing said song.

On February 11 1968, the Beatles gathered at EMI studio three in order to be filmed. Since the sessions had gone quickly, it was decided to record the new John Lennon song "Hey Bulldog". Hence, the promo film for "Lady Madonna" is actually the Beatles working on "Hey Bulldog" with rehearsal footage as well as the Beatles recording the basic track for the new song. The end of the films shows Paul leaving the studio which was actually filmed at Chappell and was during the "Step Inside Love" sessions.

The basic track for "Hey Bulldog" was completed in 10 takes with the instrumentation being Ringo on the drums, George Harrison on the lead guitar, John on the piano and Paul shaking two tambourines. Once this was perfected, John and Paul shared a microphone and added the lead and backing vocal. An outstanding bass guitar performance was also added by Paul. Finally, overdubs included John Lennon playing the lead guitar solo for the song, Ringo doubling his snare drum in placed (the choruses) and John doubling his lead vocal.

"Hey Bulldog" was mixed for mono at the same session with two attempts. The second was kept but not released until 2009 when it appeared on the Apple/EMI 2-CD "Mono Masters" included in the Beatles mono box set.

On October 29 1968 from the control room of EMI studio three, "Hey Bulldog" was mixed for stereo in three attempts with the third attempt being released on the stereo LP and folded down for the "PMC" version.

Ironically, the best song recorded especially for "Yellow Submarine" was only available on film prints from the UK as the "Hey Bulldog" scene was deleted from North American copies of the film and the song did not appear on that print. The original film from 1968 featured "Bulldog" running slightly faster than the LP. The home video of "Yellow Submarine" restored in 1999 features "Hey Bulldog" and the entire scene restored.

Interestly, it has also been reported that the February 11 1968 session was the first time that Yoko Ono appeared in the EMI studio with John Lennon (although she does not appear in any footage of the session).

"Hey Bulldog" can be found on the Apple LP/CD "Yellow Submarine" as well as the Capitol/EMI 2-LP compilation "Rock And Roll Music". A slightly modified stereo mix of "Hey Bulldog" can be found on the Apple/EMI LP/CD "Yellow Submarine Songtrack".