Revolver – Lewisohn’s notes
We take no credit for this, but floating around on the interweb is a track by track comment on the leaked “sessions” CD track lists of the upcoming “Revolver” album. The comments are taken from Mark Lewisohn’s “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” book from 1988.
Revolver: Special Edition (leaked track list)
01. Tomorrow Never Knows (Take 1) — Thursday 7th April 1966
“Take 1 of ‘Mark I’, the working title of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ (the latter being a Ringo-ism seized by John as the ideal title for his masterpiece), was a heavy metal recording of enormous proportion, with thundering echo and booming, quivering, ocean-bed vibrations. And peeking out from under the squall was John Lennon’s voice, supremely eerie, as if it were being broadcast through the cheapest transistor radio from your local market, and delivering the most bizzare Beatles lyric yet, including one line taken directly from Dr. Timothy Leary’s version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.” (p. 72).
Appears on Anthology 2
02. Tomorrow Never Knows (Mono Mix RM 11) — Monday 6th June 1966
“The fourth anniversary of the Beatles’ first visit to EMI’s Abbey Road studios, celebrated with an evening of Revolver remixing…Remix 11 of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, no longer ‘Mark I’, was marked out as the new ‘best’ and was cut-out for the master tape of the album. But on the day the LP went into the cutting room, 14 July, George Martin telephoned Geoff Emerick and had him replace it with the original ‘best’, remix eight,” (p. 82).
Appeared on the initial mono pressings available on release day
03. Got To Get You Into My Life (First Version/ Take 5) — Thursday 7th April 1966
“Take five had the organ and then a full drum intro, heavily limited, and it was also the first to feature vocals. These were not only superb, Paul being backed by John and George, but different too, Paul singing ‘Got to get you into my life, somehow, someway” at the instrumental breaks, and John and George offering the chant ‘I need your love’ four times over in the refrain. This take was marked ‘best’ on the tape box, if only temporarily,” (p. 72).
Appears on Anthology 2
04. Got To Get You Into My Life (2nd Version/ Unnumbered Mix) — Monday 25th April 1966
“Rough mono remixes, without echo, for the purpose of cutting acetates. When remixing proper commenced, on 18 May, those were also numbered one and two.” (p. 76).
05. Got To Get You Into My Life (2nd Version) — Monday 11th April 1966
“More work on ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’, perfecting the rhythm track. Take eight was deemed ‘best’, later to be overdubbed with vocals, guitar and its distinctive brass passages.” (p. 72).
06. Love You To (Take 1) — Monday 11th April 1966
“The first [take], a basic rhythm track, had George singing to his acoustic guitar accompaniment, with Paul supplying backing vocals” (p. 72).
07. Love You To (Unnumbered Rehearsal) — Unknown
08. Love You To (Take 7) — Monday 11th April 1966, Wednesday 13th April 1966
“The sitar came in at take three, and again as an overdub onto take six, along with a tabla, bass and fuzz guitar…Take seven of ‘Granny Smith’ was a reduction mix of the four-track take six, creating spare recording tracks. George added another vocal, Ringo contributed tambourine and Paul sang high pitch harmonies on the lines ‘They’ll fill you in with all the sins you see’, though this latter contribution was left out of the mix, and therefore, the record.” (p. 72, 73).
09. Paperback Writer (Takes 1 & 2/Backing Track) — Wednesday 13th April 1966
“The song was recorded in just two takes, and one of those was a breakdown.”
Lewisohn also notes:
“There can’t be many number one hit singles on which the French nursery rhyme ‘Frere Jacques’ is sung. But ‘Paperback Writer’ is one. It was Paul’s idea that John and George should rekindle childhood memories with this unusual backing vocal, recorded on 14 April behind Paul’s progressive lead.” (p. 74).
Therefore, the vocal on Take 2 is an ‘SI’.
10. Rain (Take 5)
11. Rain (Take 5/Slowed Down) — 14th April 1966
“The other song recorded today was ‘Rain’. ‘One of the things we discovered when playing around with loops on ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was that the texture and depth of certain instruments sounded really good when slowed down,’ recalls Geoff Emerick. ‘With ‘Rain’ the Beatles played the rhythm track really fast so that when the tape was played back at normal speed everything would be so much slower, changing the texture. If we’d recorded it at normal speed and then had to slow the tape down whenever we wanted to hear a playback it would have been much more work.’.
‘Rain’ features not just instruments slowed down but slowed down vocals too. John’s lead on take five of the song, the first to feature vocals, was recorded at 42 cycles per second. Tape machines usually ran at 50. Hence when John’s vocal was played back it sounded very fast indeed, halfway to Mickey Mouse. ‘An offshoot of ADT was that we had a big audio oscillator to alter the frequency of the tape machines,’ says Emerick. ‘We would drive it through a power amp and the power amp would drive the capstan wheel and enable you to speed up or slow down the machine at will. John — or George if it was his song — used to sit in the control room on mixes and actually play the oscillator.’ Again, now that the discovery had been made, few recordings on Revolver, or indeed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, would be spared this new vari-speed technique.” (p. 74).
12. Doctor Robert (Take 7) — Sunday 17th April 1966
“Only the backing track was recorded on this day: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums, plus maracas played by George, harmonium by John and piano (by Paul). The vocals were superimposed on 19 April. At this early stage the song was 2’56” long but in remixing (and there were several of these) it was always edited down to 2′ 13″.” (p. 75).
13. And Your Bird Can Sing (First Version/Take 2)
14. And Your Bird Can Sing (First Version/ Take 2/ Giggling) — Wednesday 20th April 1966
“This day’s two takes of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ captured the strident guitar work of the version which was to end up on Revolver, but that is where the similarity ended. Take one of the song was the rhythm track only, guitars and drums, and it was unrecognisable in this form from the song which finally evolved. Take two, the best for now, had innumerable overdubs, there being at least three Lennon vocals, two McCartney harmony vocals and one from George, plus additional tambourine and bass. The tape also captured hysterical laughter by John and Paul during one of the overdubs, developing into impromptu whistling by the song s end.” (p. 75).
CD Two, Track 14 appears on Anthology 2
01. And Your Bird Can Sing (2nd Version/Take 5) — Tuesday 25th April 1966
“‘Okay boys, quite brisk, moderato. foxtrot!’ Under this somewhat confusing directive from maestro John Lennon the Beatles launched into the re-make of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’. The first attempt, take three, although only a rhythm track, was a very heavy recording but the song grew progressively lighter after that, although guitars were always well to the fore.,” (p. 77).
02. Taxman (Take 11) — Thursday 25th April 1966
“Takes one through to ten concentrated solely on the rhythm track, the first vocals being introduced at take 11. But although, by this time, the song was close to completion, there were several differences between this and the final version. The “one, two, three, four” spoken count-in had yet to evolve, as had the “Mister Wilson, Mister Heath” refrain sung by John and Paul. In place of the latter was, at this point, a very fast and very high “Anybody gotta bit of money?” sung three times over by John and Paul in a style not dissimilar to that adopted by 1970s group 10CC on some of their hits. The other major difference at this stage was the absence of the rasping lead guitar solo at the end of the song. Here it came to a full ending on three strums of a guitar. (The end solo was in fact a tape copy of the middle eight piece, edited together on 21 June at the final mono and stereo remix stage.)” (p. 77).
Appears on Anthology 2
03. I’m Only Sleeping (Rehearsal Fragment)
04. I’m Only Sleeping (Take 2)
05. I’m Only Sleeping (Take 5) — Wednesday 27th April 1966
“Just before midnight — an apt time — the Beatles started work on a new song, John’s splendidly dreamy ‘I’m Only Sleeping. Again they concentrated on perfecting the rhythm track first, especially as the song was mostly acoustic at this stage, with an extra few bars of strumming starting off the song which were lopped off in the remix. ‘I’m Only Sleeping ‘was eventually to he adorned with elaborate overdubs, done on 29 April and 5 and 6 May. (p. 77).
CD Three, Track Three appears on Anthology 2
06. I’m Only Sleeping (Mono Mix RM11) — Friday 29th April 1966
After Eleanor Rigby’ John overdubbed his lead vocal onto the tape of the previously recorded Tm Only Sleeping. It was the first of three superimposition _sessions for the song. On this occasion the tape machine was run at 45 cycles instead of 50, thus speeding up John’s voice quite considerably on playback. Just to complicate matters further, the rhythm track onto which John’s vocal was superimposed was taped at 56 cycles and played back at 47 ¾”. (p. 77).
07. Eleanor Rigby (Speech Before Take 2)
08. Eleanor Rigby (Take 2) — Thursday 28th April 1966
“Once again the question of vibrato was raised, and it led to an amusing incident. Between takes one and two George Martin asked the players if they could play without vibrato. They tried two quick versions, one with, one without — not classified as takes— and at the end George called up to Paul McCartney Can you hear the difference? ” Er…not much! Ironically, the musicians could and they favoured playing without, which must have pleased Paul…The eight instruments were recorded across all four tracks of the tape, two per track, so the last job of the day was to mix this down and leave room for Paul s vocal to he overdubbed onto a newly vacated track. The reduction was numbered take 15. ” (p. 77).
Take 14 appears on Anthology 2
09. For No One (Take 10/Backing Track) — Monday 9th May 1966
“Ten takes of another superbly crafted Paul McCartney ballad, “For No One’. The first nine consisted of the rhythm track only, Paul playing piano and Ringo the drums. On the 10th take, the one they felt was best, Paul overdubbed a clavichord (hired, at a cost of five guineas, from George Martin’s AIR company) and Ringo additional cymbals and maraca. Paul’s lovely vocal was recorded as an overdub on 16 May and the song’s equally lovely French horn solo was overdubbed on 19 May. There was no role for either John or George in the recording of ‘For No One’.” (p. 78).
10. Yellow Submarine (Songwriting Work Tape/ Part 1)
11. Yellow Submarine (Songwriting Work Tape/ Part 2) — Unknown
12. Yellow Submarine (Take 4 Before Sound Effects) — Thursday 26th May 1966
“Whatever one’s opinion of ‘Yellow Submarine’, one thing is clear: it is a very interesting recording, crammed full of sound effects, party noises, whoops, chants and general silliness. On this day, 26 May, the Beatles recorded the framework of the song — four takes of the rhythm track — and then overdubbed the main vocals. Take five was a tape-to-tape reduction of take four, ready for the later superimposition of the many and varied sound effects.
‘I have a clear memory of them doing the rhythm track of’ Yellow Submarine’,” says Geoff Emerick, ‘because George Martin was off with a bad bout of food poisoning and he sent his wife Judy [to be, they married on 24 June 1966] along instead to keep an eye on things, and I suppose to make sure we all behaved ourselves! She sat in George’s place at the console making sure that the Beatles got everything they wanted.’
Whether it was because of George’s absence or not, rehearsals — not recordings — took up most of the session. Just before they launched into take one proper John Lennon, ever the impatient Beatle in the studio, exclaimed “Come on. It’s 20 to 10 [ie 9.40] and we still haven’t made us a record!” That take one, like all of the rhythm track takes, had a much longer introduction than was eventually released on disc, with acoustic guitar (John), bass guitar (Paul) and tambourine (George) all preceding Ringo’s drums and the part of the song where the lyrics would come in.
Take four had the best rhythm track, so it was onto this that all of this day’s vocals were superimposed. Ringo s lead—and the backing sung by John, Paul and George — was recorded at 47V2 cycles in order that it be speeded up on replay. The song’s other variation at this stage from what would be released on record was a full, rounded ending. On record it was faded out.” (p. 80).
13. Yellow Submarine (Highlighted Sound Effects) — Wednesday 1st June 1966
“Just inside the doorway of studio two at Abbey Road there is a small room cum cupboard called the trap room which houses a many and varied collection of assorted oddments — everything from a cash till to old hosepipes and a football supporter’s rattle. Its stock has been sadly depleted over the years but in 1966 it was full to overflowing with such items. The Beatles decided to raid it and almost all of the effects on ‘Yellow Submarine’ came from there. ‘
The cupboard had everything,’ remembers Geoff Emerick, ‘chains, ships bells, hand bells from wartime, tap dancing mats, whistles, homers, wind machines, thunder-storm machines… everything.’ Studio staff were brought in to join the fun.
John Skinner and Terry Condon were given the task of making whooshing noises. ‘There was a metal bath in the trap room,’ says Skinner, ‘the type people used to bathe in in front of the fire. We filled it with water, got some old chains and swirled them around. It worked really well. I’m sure no one listening to the song realised what was making the noise.’
‘They had a whole crowd of people in to do the effects,’ says Emerick. ‘Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones was there chinking glasses, Marianne Faithfull, Pattie Harrison [George’s wife].’
These three – and others like George Martin, Neil Aspinall, Mai Evans and the four Beatles — all lent their voices to the song’s increasingly raucous chomses. ‘There was one particular shout that John did,’ recalls Geoff Emerick. ‘The door to the echo chamber behind studio two was open so he went and sat there, singing all that ‘Full speed ahead Mister Captain’ stuff at the top of his voice.’
After the recording was over Ken Townsend remembers Mai Evans marching around the studio wearing a huge bass dmm on his chest, with everyone else in line behind him, conga-style, singing ‘We all live in a yellow submarine’!
The original tape reveals that overdubs of the effects were plastered throughout the song, although they were only used sporadically on the record. John Lennon blew bubbles in a bucket, and outside session musicians – their names alas lost – were brought in to play traditional brass band instruments.
Ironically, one of the most remarkable overdubs – the one which took the most time to plan and record — never made it onto the finished article. It was a spoken passage by Ringo for the beginning of the song, faded up into the acoustic guitar intro and lasting for as long as 31 seconds. It consisted of at least four separate superimpositions, dominated by Ringo s speaking voice but aided and abetted by George, Paul and John all doing likewise, mixed into one melange. The theme of the lesson was the walk from Land’s End to John O’ Groats. [The southernmost tip of England to the northernmost tip of Scotland.] “And we will march to see the day to see them gathered there, from Land )’Groats to John O’Green, from Stepney to Ufecht, to see a yellow submarine….”
Superimposed underneath Ringo’s voice while he was saying those words over and over again was the sound of marching feet, not too dissimilar to the sound which John Lennon used to open his 1971 song ‘Power To The People.
It was a most peculiar overdub, although why the Beatles chose to discard it after they had injected such effort is not known. Indeed it is not too clear why they did it in the first place. ‘The Land O’Groats to John O Green bit might have come about because there was a doctor, Barbara Moore I think her name was, who had walked from Lands End to John O Groats for charity,’ says Geoff Emerick. ‘Everyone was talking about her then. As for the sound of marching feet, they did that by putting coal in a cardboard box and sliding it from side to side.’
A remix of this take with the spoken passage faded in and overdubs raised in volume appears on the Real Love CD single
14. I Want To Tell You (Speech & Take 4) — Thursday 2nd June 1966
George Harrison, in securing an unprecedented three compositions on a 14 song Beatles album, was clearly having problems with his song titles. What was in the end to become ‘Love You To’, itself a title not mentioned in the lyric, had the working title of ‘Granny Smith’, after the brand of apple. Now, for the song ‘I Want To Tell You’, the problem evidently arose again, hence this burst of chat on the session tape prior to the recording of take one:
George Martin: “What are you going to call it, George?”
George [who doesn’t know]: “I don’t know”
John: “Granny Smith Part Friggin’ Two!
[To George H] You’ve never had a title for any of your songs!”
In a burst of laconic wit, engineer Geoff Emerick came up with a title, ‘Laxton’s Superb’, another type of British apple. [It was incorrectly spelt on the tape box as ‘Laxstone Superbe’] If it was to be “Granny Smith Part Friggin’ Two” then Laxtons Superb’ fitted the bill perfectly. But midway through the 3 June session the title changed again, this time to the more appropriate ‘I Don’t Know’, humorously based on George’s answer to George Martin’s original question.
By the 6 June remix it had become ‘I Want To Tell You’.
As for the recording, five takes of the rhythm track (a piano, drums, guitars) were taped before George chose the third as being best and went back to overdub his lead vocal, backed by John and Paul. More instruments — tambourine, maracas and more piano — were also added.
A tape-to-tape reduction copy was then made and was numbered (somewhat confusingly) take four. Handclaps were added to this and the song was complete except for a final overdub on 3 June. A quick recording.
‘One really got the impression that George was being given a certain amount of time to do his tracks whereas the others could spend as long as they wanted,’ says Geoff Emerick. ‘One felt under more pressure when doing one of George’s songs.’” (p. 81).
15. Here, There And Everywhere (Take 6) — Thursday 16th June 1966
“Paul McCartney had already shown himself extremely adept at writing beautiful ballads, but they don’t come any better than this gorgeous piece of music, ‘Here, There And Everywhere’. It has long been Paul’s own favourite.
The song was perfected in sessions spread over three days, and on [Tuesday 14 June] four takes were recorded. Just one of those – the fourth – was complete and even then it used only two of the four tracks available. But it was the first to feature any vocal work, the result of a drop-in and at least one overdub. Paul had vet to record his lead but here he was joined by John and George for a take of the charming backing vocals, the highly melodic “oohs” and “aahs”. These early takes were faster than the version released on disc, with the vocals speeded up to match…The best part of a further nine hours on ‘Here, There And Everywhere’, with nine more takes…” (p. 83).
An edit of Take 7 SI onto the final Take 13 appears on the Real Love CD single
16. She Said She Said (John’s Demo) — Unknown but circulating unofficially
17. She Said She Said (Take 1/Backing Track) — Tuesday 21st June 1966
“It took just shy of nine hours to record ‘She Said She Said’, the group spending most of the time rehearsing through at least 25 takes. Then the recording proper began, with three takes of the rhythm track in this instance drums, bass and two guitars ).” (p. 84).
No doubt Kevin Howlett will do an essay on the official release.
Update: Oct 28 seems to be the release date, according to some early listing that came and went. With a recommended retail price of around $140.