Friday, July 10, 2009

The Eighteenth Single

How the Beatles recorded their new single

By Mal Evans

"Hey Jude" and "Revolution" has become the Beatles' eighteenth single, their very first to be released on their own Apple label almost five years to the day after "She Loves You," which came out at the end of August 1963.

So here are some statistics to start you off. "Revolution" was John's idea--one of the songs he started work on while he was at the Maharishi's place in India--and if you can say this recording has a lead vocalist then it must be John.

"Hey Jude" is a more recent number, based on one of Paul's ideas, but worked on with much joint effort from both John and Paul before it reached the recording studios.

The first version of "Revolution" was put on tape more than three months ago. At that stage it lasted a little over ten minutes. If you read the July issue of The Beatles Monthly you will remember that there was the first exclusive report about "Revolution" in there. At one point it looked as if this might be the main side of the new single. But three further versions of "Revolution" were recorded before the Beatles were thoroughly happy about the finished production.

Work was started on Version Number Three on Tuesday, July 9. That night Ringo arrived at EMI earlier than the rest of the fellows. So he dropped in on a session in one of the other studios and did a bit of hand-clapping on a record Solomon King was making! As usual the first job was to lay down on tape the initial layers of the accompaniment. In other words to make the backing tracks. Nothing extraordinary was used in the way of instrumentation--just the normal line-up of three guitars and drums. Then, when there was a break Paul, Ringo, and I trotted off to a nearby pub for toasted cheese sandwiches.

Before the end of the month there were four completed variations of "Revolution" to choose from, and it's the fourth and final one which went onto the "B"-side of the single.

Meantime there was plenty of other studio activity. Album numbers were being worked on very busily. Ringo was adding a bit of piano-playing to his own item called "Don't Pass Me By." Paul was getting going on a Calypso-type song he'd written.

By the end of July a total of seven recordings had been completed for the next Beatles LP album. In addition the fellows had been getting pretty involved with some of the other Apple singles. George had been supervising the recording of Jackie Lomax's "Sour Milk Sea" and "Eagle Laughs At You." Paul had been producing the Mary Hopkin single, "Those Were The Days" and "Turn, Turn, Turn." And there had been the first sessions with yet another Apple discovery, James Taylor. All this work had been done at studios we had never used before, Trident in Wardour Street. The basement studio there is just great. Large enough to give plenty of scope, but small enough to be comfortable and informal. Although they had all been along there, the Beatles had yet to arrange one of their own group sessions at the Trident Studio.

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