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".

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