Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 14, 1968

-The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Two, EMI Studios, London). Yer Blues is brought nearly to completion with therecording of a second John Lennon lead vocal. Then recording begins for What’s the New Mary Jane (4 takes). This song is very nearly included on The Beatles (The White Album), but is cut at the last minute. John and George Harrison are the only Beatles who perform on the song, and John is the only singer. But Yoko Ono and Mal Evans join John and George in making the recordings. The “best” recording from this session was released on The Beatles Anthology 3 (Disc one, Track 22).

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 13, 1968

Recording, editing: Sexy Sadie, Yer Blues

Tuesday 13 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two and annexe, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

Following unproductive first sessions on 19 and 24 July 1968, The Beatles finally recorded a satisfactory arrangement of Sexy Sadie during this session.

Unusually, they began this second remake with take 100, recording a total of eight takes. Number 107 was considered the best, and was given four reduction mixes, numbered 108-111. These put John Lennon's lead vocals on one track, his and George Harrison's guitars on a second, Paul McCartney's piano on three, and Ringo Starr's drums on track four.

These reduction mixes went unused, however, and new ones were made on 21 August along with further overdubs.

The Beatles then began recording Yer Blues. Eager to achieve new sounds, they opted to play inside a small annexe room used to store four-track machines.

We had to fit all four of them in that tiny room and they literally couldn’t move. They had to find a position with their guitars and not move, or they would hit someone in the face or in the guitar. And that’s where we cut the track. So input came in a lot of different ways, and they were always up to trying anything new.

Fourteen takes were recorded, with Lennon and Harrison on lead guitar, McCartney on Rickenbacker bass guitar, and Starr on drums. Lennon also sang a guide vocal. Following take eight, McCartney took a break while the others recorded a jam in the key of E.

Takes six and 14 of Yer Blues were both judged to be good, so reduction mixes were made. Take six was mixed twice, numbered takes 15 and 16, and the single reduction of take 14 was called take 17. These mixes combined the two guitar tracks into one.

Takes 16 and 17 of Yer Blues were subsequently edited together, with the edit occurring at 3'16". The first part of the final version is from take 17, while the guitar solo is abruptly spliced with the beginning of take 16, complete with Lennon's guide vocals.

The recording of Yer Blues continued on the following day, with additional vocals and drums.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 12, 1968

1968--The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Two, EMI Studios, London). George Harrison’s lead vocal for Not Guilty is recorded. The song is mixed into mono and then shelved until the “Beatles Anthology” series is released. It appears on The Beatles Anthology 3 (Disc one, Track 18).

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 11, 1968

The Beatles release Hey Jude, their first single to bear the Apple imprint. The single, backed with Revolution, goes to #1. Today also marks the start of National Apple Week in England, named in honor of the Beatles’ fledgling record label.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 10, 1968

Paul McCartney is interviewed for New Musical Express

Saturday 10 August 1968 Interview

On this day Paul McCartney gave an interview to Alan Smith of the New Musical Express, in which he candidly admitted: "The truth about me is that I'm pleasantly insincere."

The interview caused some controversy upon publication, mainly for McCartney's thoughts on India.

Starvation in India doesn't worry me one bit, not one iota. It doesn't, man. And it doesn't worry you, if you're honest. You just pose. You've only seen the Oxfam ads. You can't pretend to me that an Oxfam ad can reach down into the depths of your soul and actually make you feel for those people – more, for instance, than you feel about getting a new car.

Paul McCartney
New Musical Express, 1968

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 9, 1968

Recording: Not Guilty, Mother Nature’s Son

Friday 9 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

The Beatles worked on two songs during this 7.30pm-2am session: the unreleased George Harrison song Not Guilty, and Paul McCartney's composition Mother Nature's Son.

A new reduction mix – take 102 – of Not Guilty was the first task of the evening. This combined the bass guitar and drums onto one track, and electric guitar and harpsichord onto another.

The third track was then filled with more electric guitar, bass and drums. Harrison requested that the studio engineers crank up his amplifier to a high level, then played his part while seated in the control room to save his ears.

George asked us to put his guitar amplifier at one end of one of the echo chambers, with a microphone at the other end to pick up the output. He sat playing the guitar in the studio control room with a line plugged through to the chamber.

Brian Gibson, studio engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The session was due to end at 10pm – unusually early for The Beatles in 1968. When the rest of the group had gone home, Paul McCartney stayed behind to record 25 takes of Mother Nature's Son. The song featured none of the other Beatles, although more percussion and brass were added on 20 August 1968.
Take 24 was chosen as the best. The second attempt, meanwhile, was eventually issued along with Not Guilty on 1996's Anthology 3.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 8, 1968

Recording, mixing: Hey Jude, Not Guilty

Thursday 8 August 1968 Studio

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

This 6.40pm-6.30am session began with the creation of new mono mixes of Hey Jude, after it was decided that the 6 August 1968 attempt was insufficient.

Although he hadn't worked on the session, balance engineer Ken Scott had been present at London's Trident Studios as The Beatles recorded the song. When the recording was transferred back to Abbey Road, however, he found the results were far less impressive.

I went to Trident to see the Beatles doing Hey Jude and was completely blown away by it. It sounded incredible. A couple of days later, back at Abbey Road, I got in well before the group. Acetates were being cut and I went up to hear one. On different equipment, with different EQ levels and different monitor settings, it sounded awful, nothing like it had at Trident.

Later on, I was sitting in number two control room and George Martin came in. I said 'George, you know that stuff you did at Trident?' 'Yes – how does it sound?' I said 'In all honesty, it sounds terrible!' 'What?' 'There's absolutely no high-end on it, no treble.'

Just then Paul McCartney came in and George said to him 'Ken thinks Hey Jude' sounds awful'. The look that came from Paul towards me... if looks could kill, it was one of those situations. Anyway, they went down to the studio floor, clearly talking about it, and one by one all the other Beatles came in and joined them. I could see them talking and then look up at me, and then talk again, and then look at me. I thought, 'Oh God, I'm going to get thrown off the session'. Finally, they all came storming up and said 'OK, let's see if it's as bad as you say. Go get the tape and we'll have a listen'. Luckily, they agreed with me, it did sound bad. We spent the rest of the evening trying to EQ it and get some high-end on it. But for a while there I wanted to crawl under a stone and die.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 7, 1968

The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Two, EMI Studios, London). Recording begins for George Harrison’s song Not Guilty. It turned out to be a problematic song: out of 46 takes for the rhythm track, only five hold together to the end of the song. The Beatles will end up devoting over 100 hours to rehearsing and recording this song (a first), yet it will never be released as a finished track. John Lennon takes part as little as possible in the recording.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 6, 1968

John Lennon and Yoko Ono attend a fashion show at a discotheque, The Revolution, in Mayfair. John is interviewed, along with Pattie Harrison and fashion editor Suzy Menkes. The interview is broadcast that night on BBC Radio 1 and 2, on the program “Late Night Extra.”

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: August 5, 1968

The Beatles are getting ready to release "Hey Jude"