Saturday, October 23, 2010

No One There To Tell Us What To Do

The next song on side one of the fantastic Apple LP/CD "Abbey Road" is an original composition by Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) entitled "Octopus's Garden". The song was written in late 1968 when Ringo was on holiday taking a break from the Beatles "White Album" sessions. He discovered that an Octopus would build his own garden in the sea and used this subject as the inspiration for the song.

The song's construction can be seen in the "Let It Be" movie where George Harrison, Ringo and George Martin are at Apple Studios on January 26 1969. They appear at the grand piano playing various chords to the song and contributing ideas.

The basic track was recorded on Saturday April 26 1969 at EMI studio two which consisted of Ringo playing drums and singing a guide vocal, Paul on bass, John and George on the guitars. 32 takes were required to finally establish the commercial basic track whereby the overdubs would be added. The second take of the song can be heard on the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 3" along with a comment by Ringo following take eight.

Three days later on April 29 1969 at EMI studio three, Ringo re-recorded his lead vocal (double tracked in places)and and a piano part was overdubbed. The song at this stage received four stereo mixes. The tape was left on the shelf for the time being. This version of "Octopus's Garden" can be found in mono on the vinyl bootleg "No. 3 Abbey Road".

The Beatles returned to the song on July 17 1969 at EMI studio three in order to add some backing vocals and sound effects to the song. The sound effects included blowing bubbles through a straw (similar to what was done on the song "Yellow Submarine") as well as using studio trickery on the high pitched background vocals by Paul and George Harrison.

The next day on July 181969 and once again at EMI studio three, Ringo perfected his lead vocal and the song was mixed for stereo in four attempts (the fourth one being used) and for some unknown reason was also mixed for mono in seven attempts.

"Octopus's Garden" can be found on the Apple LP/CD "Abbey Road" as well as the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970".

Ringo performed the song with a fresh vocal but using the basic track on the George Martin special "With A little Help From My Friends" television show on December 24 1969. The song was also performed by Ringo for his own television special "Ringo" in 1978. Ringo performed a part of the song in a medley for "Saturday Night Live" television in 1984. The song was also performed with the Roundheads for the VH1 "Storytellers" television special as well as playing the song the previous night at the Bottom line Cafe in NYC; both from 1998.

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