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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 4, 1967

The Beatles were in-between recording at EMI Studios in London

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 20, 1967

Studio Three, EMI Studios, London

When the Beatles started work on "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" John had told George Martin that he wanted the recording bathed in circus atmosphere. Unable to trace an authentic hand-operated stream organ for the part, George realized that the required sound would have to be self-created inside Abbey Road using other means. So he got hold of old calliope tapes of Sousa marches and had Geoff Emerick chop them up into small sections, throw them in the air and re-assemble the pieces at random.

The work was done in this 7:00 pm- 2:15 am session (although the effects were not superimposed on the Beatles' recording until March 29th), along with a rough mono mix of "Good Morning Good Morning" for acetate-cutting purposes.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicle - Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 19, 1967

February 19, 1967 - Fan photo of Cynthia on husband John's lap with Ringo Starr in the backseat of a car after attending a Chuck Berry concert at the Savile Theatre. Brian Epstein's reflection is captured in the window.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 18, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording sessions.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 17, 1967

UK single release: Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever

A key date in The Beatles' career came with the UK release of perhaps their finest single of all, the double a-side Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever. Although heralded upon its release as a major advance for the group - and, indeed, for Western music - the single failed to reach number one in the UK, the first time this had occurred since Love Me Do in 1962.

Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever entered the charts on February 23, 1967, and climbed to number two. It was held off by Engelbert Humperdinck's Release Me, and spent 11 weeks on the charts.

The failure to reach the top was because many chart compilers counted the double a-side as two individual releases; it did, in fact, outsell Release Me by nearly two to one.

It was pretty bad, wasn't it, that Engelbert Humperdinck stopped Strawberry Fields Forever from getting to number one? But I don't think it was a worry. At first, we wanted to have good chart positions, but then I think we started taking it for granted. It might have been a bit of a shock being number two - but then again, there were always so many different charts that you could be number two in one chart and number one in another.
(George Harrison)

Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever was issued as Parlophone R 5570. Initial copies came in a picture sleeve, unusually for the time. Indeed, only two Beatles singles were issued with picture sleeves in the UK, the other being Let It Be.

It's fine if you're kept from being number one by a record like Release Me, because you're not trying to do the same kind of thing. That's a completely different scene altogether.
(Paul McCartney)

George Martin later regretted not including the two songs on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album.

The only reason that Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane didn't go onto the new album was a feeling that if we issued a single, it shouldn't go onto an album. That was a crazy idea, and I'm afraid I was partly responsible. It's nonsense these days, but in those days it was an aspect that we'd try to give the public value for money.

The idea of a double A side came from me and Brian, really. Brian was desperate to recover popularity, and so we wanted to make sure that we had a marvellous seller. He came to me and said, 'I must have a really great single. What have you got?' I said, 'Well, I've got three tracks - and two of them are the best tracks they've ever made. We could put the two together and make a smashing single.' We did, and it was a smashing single - but it was also a dreadful mistake. We would have sold far more and got higher up in the charts if we had issued one of those with, say, "When I'm Sixty-Four", on the back.

George Martin
Anthology
 
 
 
The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 16, 1967

Studios Three, EMI Studios, London

A 7:00 pm - 1:45 am session which began wit the overdubbing of vocals and bass onto the best February 8th basic track recording of "Good Morning Good Morning". A rough mono mix was done before take eight was reduced into take nine and ten. Overdubs onto the latter would begin on March 13th.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 15, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording sessions.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 14, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

More work on "Only A Northern Song", George overdubbing two lead vocals onto take 12, which was a reduction of take three made  at the start of the 7:00 pm - 12:30 am session. Rough mono mixes were then made so that acetate discs could be cut.

Below a candid picture of Paul taken by Denise Wernek on this day.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 13, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

This 7:00 pm to 3:30 am session began with the preparation of four new mono mixes of "A Day In The Life" and then turned to the recording of a new number. George's "Only A Northern Song". (In keeping with George's frequent shortage of song titles, it started out that night as "Not Known.") A wry comment on the fact that it would be published by Northern Songs, "Only A Northern Song" was going to be George's chief contribution to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

As it transpired, though, the song didn't see commercial release until January 1969, on the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack Album. This evening, the Beatles recorded nine takes of the song's rhythm track, the third marked "best". 

 

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 12, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording