Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Construction of "Lady Madonna"

A new song written mainly by Paul McCartney was chosen to be the next A-side of a single and the start of recording occurred on February 03 1968 at EMI Studio 1  with Paul on the piano and Ringo playing drums using brushes. This basic track recording was completed in three takes. The first over dub consisted of Ringo adding another drum track throughout the song using his hard sticks and playing along with himself from the basic track. Paul added his bass guitar while John and George added electric guitars playing the riff throughout some of the verses. Paul's main vocal and the John/George backing vocals were also overdubbed onto the backing track after the instruments. So far you had on track 1: The original piano/drums with brushes; track 2 and 3: drums with sticks, bass and guitars and on track 4: the vocals (main and backing). On some bootlegs, some of the backing overdubs include a voice at the end singing the words "Lady Madonna" in a quick operatic mocking voice.
Three days later on February 06 1968, the song became take 4 with the drums, bass and guitars mixed onto a single track leaving some free recording space. This was used to have the piano "thickened" by Paul for the intro, Paul's voice "thickened" as well for the "see how they run" part, handclaps in various places and the three main singers cupping their hand and adding a mock voice instrumental part in the middle fo the song. On the bootlegs, you can hear Paul yell out "Lady Madonna" with a short laugh at the beginning of the first verse and the word "Meet...eet...eet" at the end of the song. Most bootlegs contain a rough mix/monitor mix of the song.
A brass section was added to the song as well featuring two tenor and two baritone saxes. A reduction mix was conducted during this time brining the song into take 5 and adding not only the brass, but a sax solo from musician Ronnie Scott. On the Apple "Anthology 2" project, you can hear a few stray lines of sax at the end of the song not present on the commercial versions (they were faded down).The overdubs ended with the harmonization of the "see how they run" segment of the song and more handclaps.
The mono mix was completed on February 15 1968 after ten attempts. There were no stereo mixes completed until the end of that year on December 02 1969 when a stereo mix was completed. This was due to the fact that the US only release of the "Hey Jude" LP was imminent.
Bootlegs with the various overdubs not faded include the LP "Ultra Rare Trax, Volumes 5 and 6" and the CD "Unsurpassed Masters, Volume 4". The commerical mono mix can be found on the single, the stereo mix can be found on both the Apple "Hey Jude" LP/CD and the Apple "Past Masters Volume Two", "Past Masters" and the compilation LP/CD Apple compilation "1".  As mentioned above, the extra sax mix can be found on the Apple 2-CD/3-LP commercial release of "Anthology 2".

Saturday, August 20, 2016

"Across The Universe" takes 7 and 8

On February 04 1969, The Beatles continued work in Studio 3 of EMI Studios in London for the John Lennon composition "Across The Universe" using a different take from the previous take 2 mentioned in the previous post. This time work concentrated on take 7 which featured John on acoustic guitar, George Harrison adding tamboura and Ringo playing a single drum tom.
One of the ideas floating around was to have backing vocals on the chorus of the song. Since it was a last minute decision, it was decided to grab two fans waiting outside the EMI Studios and bring them inside to sing along to during the chorus. The two lucky teens were Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease who sang their parts and then left the recording session.
Some experimentation followed when take 7 was reduced to take 8 and backwards bass/drums were added. Also added at this stage were backwards guitar/harp and the band humming a note during the "Om" section and near the end of the song as well. A mono mix was made of this and it was eventually released (without the backwards bass/drums) on various bootlegs including the LP  "The Lost Lennon Tapes Volume Three", the CD "Ultra Rare Trax, Volume 3" and "Unsurpassed Masters Volume 4" described sometimes as the "Hums Wild" version of the song.
Four days later on February 08 1969, the backwards tapes were taken off and replace with harmonies by Paul and George as well as adding some electric guitar swells from John, maracas by Ringo and piano by Paul. This version was mixed to mono with some animal effect used at the beginning of the song and it sat there for most of the year, unused.
Almost a year later in 1970, Glyn Johns started preparing an LP acetate of the "Get Back" sessions and decided to use the take 7 version of "Across The Universe" by mixing it in stereo using the guitar, tamboura, drum tom and the teenage backing vocals.This mix can be found on such bootlegs as the CD "Get Back Second Mix" and "Get Back: The Final Glyn Johns compilation".

Friday, August 5, 2016

Across The Universe - Take 2

On February 03 1968, The Beatles convened into Studio 3 of EMI Studios in London to prepare a possible single (45) release in anticipation of their departure to India to study with the Maharashi. John, Paul and George had all written songs that were ready to be recorded.
There was a bit of work done on McCartney's composition for the backing of "Lady Madonna" before moving on to John's composition "Across The Universe".
The backing for "Across The Universe" was completed in two takes. The instrumentation for this version consists of acoustic guitar, tamboura and a table harp. All acoustic instruments with John's lead voice overdubbed. A very dreamy effect takes place upon listening to this version. In my opinion, this could have been released "as is" but I'm sure Mr. Lennon had different plans for the song because it obviously changed over time.
This version of take 2 was officially released on the Apple 3 LP/2-CD "Anthology 2" project and sounds fabulous in stereo. There is also a monitor mix of the song that is available on bootlegs such as the CD "Control Room Monitor Mixes" and "Complete Control Roolm Monitor Mixes 2".