Saturday, November 28, 2015

"A Suitable Ending"

On February 10 1967 which was the day the orchestra recorded their crescendo for the "A Day In The Life" session, The Beatles found that there was really nothing after the orchestra overdub on tape to end the song in a long and drawn-out way. It was suggested to have the group (and probably some friends) stand around a microphone and "hum" a note together trying to make it last at long as possible. This was tried and rejected. This recording of the "hum" version ending can be found on the alternate bootleg of the "Anthology" DVD director's cut bootleg.
On February 22 1967 at EMI Studio 2, another idea spawned out of the group whereby keyboards would be used to sustain notes as long as possible for the ending. It was decided that three pianos and a harmonium would be used. Therefore, the ending for "A Day In The Life" consists of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Mal Evans and (on harmonium) George Martin all play an E major chord together on the various pianos, etc.
It took nine attempts at this ending and the ninth was used on the recording. The final chord is almost a minute long (53 seconds to be exact according to John Winn's book). The sound was layered three times to thicken it up a bit and this was added to the mono and stereo mixes of the song completed the same day.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Snippets of "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!"

Bookends of a rehearsal session as well as attempts as some studio takes are available to the listening public on commercial releases over the years for "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!" which is a mainly John song written in January/February of 1967 inspired by a circus poster advertising the Pablo Fanques Fair and Circus show.
Both takes one and two from February 17 1967 in EMI Studio 2 in London consists of the Beatles preparing the backing takes for "Kite" with George Martin playing the harmonium, John Lennon singing the main vocal, Paul on bass, George on tambourine and Ringo on his usual drums. Both takes are aborted after a few seconds with the first take being counted in by Paul and the band realizing after a bar or two that the song is being played too slow! There is a bit of an adjustment made for the count in and another attempt is realized before a break down of the song occurs. All of this can be heard in the first minute of the track on the 3-LP/2-CD Apple release "Anthology 2". It would eventually require seven takes to perfect the backing which will be discussed in a later post.
The Beatles also tended to record the rehearsals of their takes and sometimes the proper take would erase the previous rehearsals but in this case a couple of snippets from the rehearsals can be heard. One example is on the Anthology DVD set whereby there is a comment by John Lennon followed by the announcement of a rehearsal take 8 by the engineer Geoff Emerick.
Another snippet of the rehearsals lasting only two seconds has been released commercially as part of Paul McCartney's 2000 release "Liverpool Sound Collage" which has John Lennon stating "Well, we'll have the Masked Alberts on by then". This quote also originates from the original rehearsal sessions and is repeated on the track "Plastic Beetle".

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Good Morning Good Morning Take 8

Take 08 of "Good Morning, Good Morning" which was the second John Lennon tune worked on for the new LP - the first being "A Day In The Life". Take 08 consists of an early mix and is not really an outtake per se but more of a basic track work before the overdubbing of other various instruments and used as an example of creation for the commercial "Anthology" project.
The instrumentation is bare bones and you can hear the electric guitar, drums and tambourine from February 08 1967 in Studio Two of EMI in London.
The addition of bass guitar and John's lead vocal from February 16 1967 are added to this and - viola - take 08 is completed. This version of the song was released commercially on the Apple/EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2" as it stood at this point.
The overdubbing of horns and additional vocals would be done almost a month later. The take 08 version would also be reduced with the instruments on one of the four tracks and the vocal on the second of the four tracks. Lennon has said that the song is based on a television commercial that he saw for Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"A Day In the Life" Orchestra Session

On February 10 1967, The Beatles and some of their friends made an event out of the recording of a 40 piece orchestra overdub for one of their songs: "A Day In the Life". The orchestra was hired to play a low note on their instruments and move up to the highest note they could muster in a set period of time without following each other. This is a very unorthodox task and very difficult to do as most orchestras "gel" together and rarely to they play as individuals but complement their sections by playing as a group and being "tight" timing wise.
By this time, The Beatles had worked on "A Day In the Life" with Paul re-doing his middle bridge section and adding the "ah" part between his section and the third verse (sounding very much like Lennon). The drums and bass were also re-recorded with an entire different performance from the earlier take with Ringo adding his signature fills as released on the commercial version we all know and love.
The orchestral overdub was conducted in Studio One of EMI Studios with Paul McCartney "conducting" the orchestra. The musicians were asked to wear various prank costume effects and it was more of a party atmosphere than a regular recording sessions. Bubbles, noisemakers, colourful costumes took it all to a new level !!
The two four-track machines were synced up and four of the tracks were used. The orchestra overdubbed themselves four times although they probably didn't know it and thought they were rehearsing a couple of takes. The four track filled, this would be mixed into take seven of the final version of the song when released in mono and stereo on the "Pepper" LP.
A good way to hear this is an the 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2" as part of the various takes within the track, but I've found a youtube link that has the orchestra also you may want to move your spot as it only comes in half way through the song - as you all well know.