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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 28, 1967

Recording: Good Morning Good Morning, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!

John Lennon recorded a second lead vocal for Good Morning Good Morning on this evening, following a first attempt on February 16, 1967. Lennon harmonized with himself during parts of the song.

A second reduction mix combined the two vocal tracks and created space for further overdubs. Backing vocals, by Lennon and Paul McCartney, were the first to be added, and included the song's title being sung in German at one point. Also taped was a guitar solo, played by McCartney.

Lennon had decided to adorn the song with an array of animal sounds. He wished for it to begin with a rooster's crow, and to end with a range of different creatures. The order of these was carefully considered.

John said to me during one of the breaks that he wanted to have the sound of animals escaping and that each successive animal should be capable of frightening or devouring its predecessor! So those are not just random effects, there was actually a lot of thought put into all that.
Geoff Emerick
 
The effects begin with birds twittering, followed by a miaowing cat, dogs barking, horses neighing, sheep bleating, tigers roaring, an elephant trumpeting, a fox being chased by a hunt - with some sheep and cows added - a pig grunting and a hen clucking.

The effects were taken from the Abbey Road tape library. Volume 57: Fox-hunt was used for the chase, and all others were taken from the curiously-titled Volume 35: Animals and Bees. The sequences were assembled on this and the following day.

This particular session ended at 4.45am. Before it did, however, another Sgt Pepper song - Being For the Benefit Of Mr. Kite! - received further overdubs. These all went on to the vacant third track of the four-track tape.

For the first half of the song, John Lennon played organ while George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans played harmonicas, and George Martin played a Mellotron.

During the waltz in the middle, a tambourine was added, Paul McCartney played a guitar, Lennon added an organ part, and George Martin added a second organ part of descending notes. These were taped with the machine running at half speed, making them sound much higher and faster upon playback.

Work on Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite! continued on March 29th and March 31st 1967.

Source: The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 27, 1967

The Beatles are taking a small break from recording today

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 26, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording at EMI Studios in London

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 25, 1967

Top 10 Song Chart for March 25, 1967

1. Penny Lane - The Beatles

2. Happy Together - The Turtles

3. Dedicated To The One I Love - The Mamas and the Papas

4. I've Been Lonely Too Long - The Young Rascals

5. There's A Kind Of Hush - Herman's Hermits

6. Love Is Here And Now You're Gone - Diana Ross & The Supremes

7. Ruby Tuesday - The Rolling Stones

8. Kind Of A Drag - The Buckinghams

9. California Nights - Lesley Gore

10. Bernadette - The Four Tops

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 24, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording at EMI Studios in London

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 23, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios in London

Another attempt at recording the vocals for "Getting Better", overdubbed onto take 14. A reduction mixdown into take 15 and overdubbing of bongos onto this completed the recording, which was then mixed into mono before the end of this 7:00 pm to 3:45 am session. But it wasn't the usual team of George Martin and Geoff Emerick doing the recording and mixing - they were otherwise engaged this night so another EMI Studios balance engineer, Peter Vince, fulfilled both these roles.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 22, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios in London

Overdubbing of two more dilruba parts and another sword-mandel part onto George's "Within You, Without You", played by the same musicians on March 15th, Amrat Gakjjar, P.D. Joshi and Natver Soni, respectively. A reduction mixdown then took one into take two and a rough mono mix was made for acetate=cutting purposes. While George's 7:00 pm to 2:15 am session was taking place in Studio Two, any other Beatle interested in listening to the thus far completed masters for Sgt. Pepper did so in the control room of Studio One between 11:00 pm and 12:30 am.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 21, 1967

Recording, mixing, editing: Getting Better, Lovely Rita

This session saw work continue on two Sgt. Pepper songs: Getting Better and Lovely Rita. It was perhaps more notable for being the one time when John Lennon took LSD in the recording studio.

Visitors to the studio on this occasion included music publisher Dick James, NEMS employee Peter Brown, and Ivan Vaughan, who had introduced John Lennon and Pal McCartney for the first time on July 6, 1957.

Also present was journalist and writer Hunter Davies, who had recently been commissioned to write The Beatles' authorised biography. His book, simply titled The Beatles, was published in September 1968 and documented a number of recording and songwriting sessions for the Sgt Pepper album.

The backing track for Getting Better had been recorded on March 9th and 10th, Ringo Starr was not needed on this evening so didn't attend.

The session began with a playback of the progress so far. McCartney was the most actively-engaged of the group, discussing with balance engineer Geoff Emerick on how the song should sound.

Two reduction mixes, numbered 13 and 14, were made to free space on the four-track tape. These mixes put the 9 March rhythm track and the tambura on one track, and bass guitar and drum overdubs on track two.

George Harrison and Ivan [Vaughan] went off to chat in a corner, but Paul and John listened carefully. Paul instructed the technician on which levers to press, telling him what he wanted, how it should be done, which bits he liked best. George Martin looked on, giving advice where necessary. John stared into space...

They played the backing track of It's Getting Better [sic] for what seemed like the hundredth time, but Paul said he wasn't happy about it. They'd better get Ringo in and they would do it all again. Someone went to ring for Ringo.

Peter Brown arrived... They played him the backing track of It's Getting Better. As it was being played, Paul talked to one of the technicians and told him to try yet a different sound mix. He did so and Paul said that was much better. It would do. They didn't need to bring Ringo in now after all.

'And we've just ordered Ringo on toast,' said John. But Ringo was cancelled in time and the studio was got ready to record the sound track, the voices... The three of them held their heads round one microphone and sang It's Getting Better while up in the control box, George Martin and his two assistants got it all down on track. The three Beatles were singing, not playing, but through the headphones strapped to their ears they could hear the recording of the backing track. They were simply singing to their already recorded accompaniment.

In the studio itself, all that could be heard were the unaccompanied, un-electrified voices of the Beatles singing, without any backing. It all sounded flat and out of key.

The Beatles
Hunter Davies

The vocals were re-recorded, more successfully, on March 23, 1967. The Beatles' involvement in this session, meanwhile, drew to a close once John Lennon began to feel the effects of a tab of LSD he had mistakenly ingested.

Lennon carried with him a small silver art nouveau pill box which he had bought from Liberty of London. He kept a range of stimulants inside the box, and was in the habit of taking it out and selecting different drugs to take.

We were overdubbing voices on one of the Pepper tracks, and John, down in the studio, was obviously feeling unwell. I called over the intercom, 'What's the matter, John? Aren't you feeling very well?'

'No,' said John.

I went down and looked at him, and he said, 'I don't know. I'm feeling very strange.'

He certainly looked very ill, so I told him, 'You need some fresh air. Let's leave the others working, and I'll take you outside.'

The problem was where to go; there were the usual five hundred or so kids waiting for us at the front, keeping vigil like guard-dogs, and if we had dared to appear at the entrance there would have been uproar and they would probably have broken the gates down. So I took him up to the roof, above Number Two studio. I remember it was a lovely night, with very bright stars. Then I suddenly realised that the only protection around the edge of the roof was a parapet about six inches high, with a sheer drop of some ninety feet to the ground below, and I had to tell him, 'Don't go too near the edge, there's no rail there, John.' We walked around the roof for a while. Then he agreed to come back downstairs, and we packed up for the night.

It wasn't until much later that I learned what had happened. John was in the habit of taking pills, 'uppers', to give him the energy to get through the night. That evening, he had taken the wrong pill by mistake - a very large dose of LSD. But Paul knew, and went home with him and turned on as well, to keep him company. It seems they had a real trip. I knew they smoked pot, and I knew they took pills, but in my innocence I had no idea they were also into LSD.

George Martin
All You Need Is Ears

Although they occasionally smoked cannabis during recording sessions, The Beatles never intentionally took acid while working.

I never took it in the studio. Once I did accidentally. I thought I was taking some uppers, and I was not in a state of handling it. I can't remember what album it was but I took it and then [whispers] I just noticed all of a sudden I got so scared on the mike. I said, 'What was it?' I thought I felt ill. I thought I was going cracked. Then I said, 'I must get some air.' They all took me upstairs on the roof, and George Martin was looking at me funny. And then it dawned on me, I must have taken acid. And I said, 'Well, I can't go on, I have to go.' So I just said, 'You'll have to do it and I'll just stay and watch.' I just [became] very nervous and just watching all of a sudden. 'Is it alright?' And they were saying, 'Yeah.' They were all being very kind. They said, 'Yes, it's alright.' And I said, 'Are you sure it's alright?' They carried on making the record.
John Lennon
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
 
The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 20, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios in London

The Beatles deliberately kept themselves very much to themselves during the recording of Sgt. Pepper, so an interview by John and Paul to their old mate Brian Matthew this evening was certainly an important coup for BBC Radio. Underlining the Beatles new workshop use of Abbey Road, Brian Matthew had to interview them there - the first time any of the Beatles consented to this - the session recording sheet logging the interview "Beatle Talk" and showing that it was taped at the start on the 7:00 session.

Mathew's purpose was two-fold. He recorded John and Paul's acceptance speech for three 1966 Ivor Novello awards - for Yellow Submarine and for Yesterday. These speeches were broadcast by the BBC Light Program on March 27th. The event was otherwise recorded live, before a music industry audience, at the Playhouse Theatre in London on March 23rd. John and Paul had no wish to attend so their three statuettes were received on their behalf by NEMS' Tony Barrow and by Ron White, the general manager of marketing services at EMI Records. After each presentation, the relevant "Thank You" speech by John and Paul was played over the PA (and dropped into the program), following which the song was performed live at the playhouse by Joe Loss and his Orchestra. (the lead vocal on "Michelle" was sung by Ross MacManus, father of Declan, aka Elvis Costello.

Up to 1970, John and Paul won several Ivor Novello awards too, in presentation ceremonies, also broadcast by BBC radio, but they never again recorded a special interview, nor did they receive the awards in person. George Martin and Dick James accepted them on their behalf and made short speeches. The secondary visit of Brian Matthew's visit to EMI studios this evening was to record a brief addtional interview with John and Paul for exclusive use by the BBC's Transcription service in its weekly best of Top Of The Pops, sold by subscription to overseas stations. It was only a brief interview, for which precisely four minutes were used, although John and Paul had ample time to explain the Beatle's change in direction towards recording and away from touring- John in particular being emphatic about there being no more concert tours, succinctly saying that there be no more "She Loves You".

 

After the interview, John and Paul devoted the remainder of the session to "She's Leaving Home", overdubbing vocals onto take nine (a reduction of the previous night's take one). This lovely song was now complete because there were no overdubs of any of the Beatles playing an musical instrument: the only music playing on "She's Leaving Home" was the strings. The recording was then mixed onto mono before the close of play at 3:30 am.

 

Source: The Complete Beatles Chronicle -Mark Lewisohn

 

 

 

 

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 19, 1967

Another day in-between recording at EMI Studios in London