Beatles 50th Blog posts of '2018' 'January'

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 11, 1968

Recording, mixing: Hey Bulldog

Just days before they were due to fly to India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Beatles recorded Hey Bulldog, a brand new John Lennon song, during the filming of a promotional clip for Lady Madonna.

The group gathered in Abbey Road's Studio Three at 4pm to be filmed by NEMS employee Tony Bramwell. While there, The Beatles decided to put their time to good use, and recorded the new song.

On February 11, they recorded Hey Bulldog at Abbey Road, while I filmed the entire process. We didn't need any promo material for Bulldog, but Paul had also recorded Lady Madonna, the song he had written in memory of his mother, which did need some promotional film. I cut the Bulldog shoot, using the bits of the lads playing and sitting about in the studio, and we used that. Then it vanished, completely disappeared. We thought it had been stolen, as things often were if not nailed down. (Over thirty years later, in August 1999, my original film was rediscovered and used with a reissue of Bulldog to go with the revamped digital version of Yellow Submarine.)

Tony Bramwell
Magical Mystery Tours

In fact, three separate clips were edited from the footage, and variously included effects such as filters, double exposures, and extra material filmed at the session for Cilla Black's song Step Inside Love, written by Paul McCartney and recorded in November 1967.

The most common Lady Madonna clip begins with an overhead shot of Ringo Starr on drums, and ends with footage of McCartney from the Step Inside Love session, picking up his coat and guitar and leaving the studio. A lesser-seen variation begins with Starr in a coat and tie and features George Harrison eating a plate of beans.

A third version was created for Anthology in the 1990s, combining elements from both clips plus footage from the 30 July 1968 session for Hey Jude.

Hey Bulldog was recorded in 10 takes, with Lennon on piano, McCartney shaking a tambourine, Harrison on rhythm guitar and Starr on drums. McCartney then overdubbed a bass guitar part onto track two of take 10, accompanied by Harrison playing the main riff on a distorted guitar and additional off-beat snare drum from Starr.

Lennon and McCartney then shared a single microphone to record the vocals, reading from Lennon's handwritten lyrics. This included banter and howling during the song's ending.

I remember Hey Bulldog as being one of John's songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it's mainly his vibe. There's a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

After Bramwell had finished filming, final overdubs were added. These included the lead guitar solo, performed on George Harrison's Gibson SG Standard, although the identity of the player is uncertain.

Once recording was complete, two mono mixes of Hey Bulldog were made. The second of these was then given to King Features, who made an animated sequence for the Yellow Submarine film to accompany the song.

The mixes were made with the tape machine running slightly faster - 51 cycles per second rather than the usual 50 - which raised the pitch and tempo of the song slightly. Artificial double tracking (ADT) was also used.

That was a really fun song. We were all into sound texture in those days and during the mixing we put ADT on one of the 'What did he say? Woof woof' bits near the end of the song. It came out really well.

Source: Geoff Emerick - The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 10, 1968

The Beatles are in-between recording.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 9, 1968

The Beatles took a short break.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 8, 1968

Recording, mixing: The Inner Light, Across The Universe


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 7, 1968

The Beatles in-between recordings

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 6, 1968

Ringo Starr appears on Cilla Black’s television show


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 5, 1968

Television Theatre, London

This was the final day of rehearsals, and took place at the BBC's Television Theatre on Shepherd's Bush Green in west London. Unlike the previous week's, these rehearsals took place on camera.

The day was divided into two sections, which lasted from 1.30-5.30pm and 6.30-10pm. The live show was broadcast the following evening from 8pm.

Starr's appearance was for the second edition of Cilla, a variety show with a number of guests each week. On this occasion they were comedian Spike Milligan and ventriloquist Peter Brough.

Starr appeared during the opening credits and in a number of skits. In the first, he assisted Black in sorting through her fan mail and introduced one of her singing performances, I'm Playing Second Fiddle To A Football Team. A second sketch saw him interact with Peter Brough and performing with his own 'dummy', introduced as Ariadne but actually Black in a school uniform.

Starr and Black duetted unaccompanied on the 1905 song Nellie Dean while he drank from a pint of beer, and finally they sang and danced to a 1917 song entitled Do You Like Me?

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 4, 1968

Studio Three, EMI Studios, London

John's offering for the new single was the philosophical "Across the Universe", begun this day and completed on the 8th. Six takes were recorded (there was no take three so these were numbered one to seven) with John considering himself best pleased with take seven - the Beatles began an 8:00 pm to 2:00 am session over-dubbing on to this.

But after John had taped his vocal contribution, recorded with the machine running slow to play back fast, he and Paul realized that the song lacked falsetto harmonies. Finding two female singers on a Sunday evening without prior arrangement would usually have been impossible, but for the Beatles all they had to do was step outside the front of EMI Studios and invite inside two of the many fans who congregated there whenever the Beatles were recording. Paul did just this, selecting Lizzie Bravo, a 16 year old from Brazil temporarily living close to Abbey Road, and Gayleen Pease, 17, a Londoner, who were naturally thrilled at being the only fans ever invited to contribute to a Beatles recording.

Once the girl's had taped their "Nothing's gonna change our world" high harmonies they left the studio so that the Beatles could record more overdubs. These included three unusual effects: the first was "Hums Wild"- a 15 second take of humming, recorded and overdubbed three more times to fill the four-track tape, the second was a guitar piece, the third a harp-like sound, the tape box denoting that these latter two were "to be played backwards". At least two of these, "Hums Wild" and the guitar played backwards, were temporarily inserted into "Across the Universe" long enough for John to make a 7 1/2 ips copy for taking home.

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicle

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 3, 1968

The Beatles visit to India to study under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was imminent, John and George flying out on February 15th, Paul and Ringo four days later. As they weren't due to return until late April, they decided to record a new single for release in absentia in Mid-March. As it happened, this concentrated series of sessions, ending on February 11th, was more productive than expected and realized four new songs, all mixed and ready for issue.

The first of these was Paul's "Lady Madonna". Three piano drum takes were recorded the Beatles overdubbed bass, fuzz guitars, drums and lead and backing vocals.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 2, 1968

Television Rehearsal Rooms, London

While Ringo was engaged in more daytime rehearsals for Cilla, George Martin was working at Abbey Road making a copy of the "Only A Northern Song" vocal track, presumably to aid his incidental soundtrack contribution to Yellow Submarine, now approaching completion.

This day's copy of Harrison's vocals was most likely to help in the construction of certain sections in the score.

None of The Beatles were present for this session, which took place from 12.00-1pm in the control room of Abbey Road's Studio Two.