Monday, November 22, 2010

Nothin's Gonna Change My World

The next release of Beatles music during their career and after the "Abbey Road" LP is the appearance of an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John entitled "Across The Universe". In this instance, the song was used on a charity UK LP for the World Wildlife Fund. This version of "Across the Universe" became somewhat rare in the 1970s due to the fact that the charity LP was deleted after a couple of years and the song (in this version) did not appear on a Beatles LP until the UK version of the EMI UK LP "Rarities" was released along with the blue box set "The Beatles Collection" in 1978.

Another version of "Across The Universe" was released during the Beatles' active career on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be". This time the song was slowed down in tempo and was barer than the charity version.

The recording of "Across The Universe" started on February 03 1969 at EMI studio three. Seven takes of the basic track was recorded with the instrumentation being John on acoustic guitar and lead vocal, table harp, tom toms and tamboura. All of the sounds at this point were "flanged" via sound effects from the recording studio. Take two of the song appears on the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2".

The next day on Sunday February 04 1969, once again from EMI studio three, John Lennon overdubbed his lead vocal onto take 07 of the basic track. The backing tape would run slow when the lead vocal was put on thus making Lennon's voice sound higher pitched upon playback. It was then decided to put a little bit of experimentation into the song. I believe that if the tune at this point would have been left alone, a fine version of the song would have been great but different effects and elements of the song were thought of and attempted. It was first decided to add backing vocals to John's lead, but for some unknown reason the backing would be sung by female voices. Since it was a Sunday and a last minute decision, the story is that Paul McCartney went outside and chose two females to sing the harmony parts in the chorus out of a group of girls hanging around the perimeter of EMI studios on Abbey Road. The two girls were Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease - on 16 and 18 respectively. The girls were given their notes and lyric and once they accomplished the vocals they were ushered out of the studio. Since the Beatles were still using four-track in early 1968, the tape reduction was attempted and concluded bringing the song to take eight. Further experimentation ensued with a backwards bass and drums, humming vocals and guitar and harp "to be played backwards".

The recording of the song continued four days later on February 08 1969 from EMI studio two. The experimentation continued with various overdubs including an organ played by George Martin (not used), a mellotron played by John Lennon (not used), John then added a guitar, George Harrison played the maracas and Paul added a piano. The backwards bass and drums were replaced with harmonies from John , Paul and George H. A mono mix of the song at this stage was attempted twice in the control room of EMI studio two but remained unreleased.

At some point later in the year 1968 or the beginning of 1969, animal sound effects were added to the mono mix 2 from the February 08 1969 attempt. The purpose of the mix was to have this on an abandoned EP release for music from the film "Yellow Submarine". This EP did not materialize with the LP soundtrack being released instead. The mono mix with the animal effects can be heard on the Apple/EMI 2-CD "Mono Masters" from the Mono box set.

The version of "Across The Universe" originally heard on the UK charity LP was mixed for stereo from EMI room 4 on October 20 1969. The tape was run fast during the mix. This stereo version was released on the Regal Zonophone Starline UK LP: "No One's Gonna Change Our World" on December 12 1969.

During the "Get Back" project, Glyn Johns - the producer/engineer for the proposed LP to be released entitled "Get Back" - was inspired to use "Across The Universe" due to the fact that a rehearsal/run-through of the song was filmed during the early Twickenham studio rehearsals back in January 1969. Glyn Johns used take 07 and removed the Beatles' harmony vocals, the animal effects and slowed down the tape. This stereo mix was conducted at Olympic Studios in Barnes, London on January 05 1970. This mix remains commercially unreleased.

Another stereo mix was conducted on Monday March 23 1970 by Phil Spector. This mix was attempted eight time with the eight mix being the one used for overdubbing.

Finally, on April 01 1970, an orchestra and choir were added to "Across The Universe". Phil Spector slowed the tape down even more and all of the backing vocals were eliminated as well as all of the effects. A tape reduction of the song brought it to take 09. The orchestra recorded the overdub in EMI studio one while the recording board was supervised in EMI studio three.

The next day on April 02 1970, "Across The Universe" was given three stereo mix attempts with the third attempt being the commercial version two for the "Let It Be" LP.

Version one of "Across The Universe" (with the animal effects and female backing) is available on the Starline UK LP "No One's Gonna Change Our World" as well as the EMI/Parlophone UK LP "Rarities" and the North American version of the Capitol LP "Rarities". It is also on the Capitol/EMI 2-LP/CD "Past Masters Volume two" as well as on the Apple/EMI CD "Mono Masters" and the Apple/ EMI CD "Past Masters" from the box set.

Version two of "Across The Universe" (without the animal effects and female backing) is available on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be" as well as on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970" and the Capitol of Canada/EMI LP "The Beatles Ballads". Lastly, there is a stripped down stereo mix with John on vocal, his guitar and the tamboura featured on the Apple/EMI LP/CD "Let It Be...Naked".


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