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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 8, 1968

Recording, mixing: The Inner Light, Across The Universe

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Ken Scott

There were two scheduled recording sessions on this day. The first took place from 2.30-9pm and saw the completion of The Inner Light and further work on Across The Universe, while the second was a mixing session from 10pm to 12.15am.

The Inner Light was the first to be completed. George Harrison double-tracked his vocals for the final "arrive without traveling" line, and was joined by John Lennon and Paul McCartney on "do all without doing". Three mono mixes, numbered 2-4, were then created and work on the song was complete.

The Beatles then turned their attentions to Lennon's song Across The Universe. A track containing backwards bass and drums was erased and replaced with wordless three-part harmonies from Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. An organ part by George Martin and Mellotron by Lennon were also taped and discarded, and the final overdub was electric guitar played through a volume pedal, plus maracas and piano.

Comedian Spike Milligan was present at the session; he and Ringo Starr had appeared in an edition of Cilla Black's television show Cilla two days previously on 6 February 1968. Since Lady Madonna and The Inner Light had both been selected for The Beatles' next single, Milligan asked if it could be used for a charity album to benefit the World Wildlife Fund.

Two mono mixes created on this night were never issued, but they did include the wildlife effects that can be heard on the Past Masters collection.

The effects were most likely added on this day, and were taken from the Abbey Road library; they included the sounds of children playing and birds twittering and flying. One of this day's mixes was played by The Beatles at the end of the 7 January 1969 Get Back/Let It Be session, to remind themselves of the song's structure.

The World Wildlife Fund album was eventually released on 12 December 1969 as No One's Gonna Change Our World, with Across The Universe as the opening song. The mix which was used was created on 2 October that year.

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

Ringo Starr was not present for The Beatles' recording sessions on this day, as he was at the BBC's Television Theatre in London to rehearse and record an appearance on Cilla Black's television show Cilla.

This was the second edition of Cilla, a variety show with a number of guests each week. Rehearsals took place on this day from 10.30am-1pm, and 2-6.30pm, and the 50-minute show was broadcast live from 8pm. The guests 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' two sessions on this day were scheduled to allow an hour's break in between, and it is likely that they watched their bandmate's televised appearance.

Source: Beatles Bible

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

Studio Three - EMI Studios

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.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: February 1, 1968

Television Rehearsal Rooms, Victoria Rd. North Acton, London

Off camera daytime rehearsals for Ringo at the BBC's specially designated premises in North Acton, West London, running through with Cilla Black his guest appearance in her TV series, set for live broadcast the following Tuesday evening.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 31, 1968

On this last day of the month, the Beatles took a break.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: January 30, 1968

In UK Hello Goodbye by The Beatles was in the top 5 hits.