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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 10, 1967

Recording: Getting Better

This was the second recording session for the Sgt. Pepper song Getting Better.

The work had been mixed down to one track at the end of the previous day's session. The tape was then filled with Ringo Starr's snare and bass drums on track two, Paul McCartney bass guitar on track three, and George Harrison's tambura on track four.

The session ended at 4am on the morning of March 11th 1967. Work continued on Getting Better on the evenings of March 21st and March 23rd.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 9, 1967

Recording: Getting Better

The Beatles began recording a new Sgt. Pepper song during this session: Getting Better.

The group recorded the song's rhythm track in seven takes. Paul McCartney's rhythm guitar and Ringo Starr's drums went onto track one of the tape, and McCartney's guide vocals were on the second. George Martin hit the strings of an electric keyboard called a pianette on track three, and Starr added more drums to the fourth.

The tape was then subjected to a reduction mix to free up more space. This took five attempts, numbered takes 8-12, with the guide vocals omitted.

This was one of the few Sgt Pepper sessions in which Geoff Emerick did not work as the studio balance engineer. He and tape operator Richard Lush were given the night off, and were replaced by two other EMI staffers, Malcolm Addey assisted by Ken Townsend.

Geoff had been doing a lot of late-night work and was getting very tired. I remember the session was booked to begin at 7pm but there was barely a Beatle in sight before midnight, and we were sitting around waiting. They eventually straggled in one by one. Ringo came in about 11 and ordered fish and chips. The others arrived later, they all hung around and finally started work at about one in the morning. The ego trip of the big-time artists had started to set in.
Malcolm Addey

Source: The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The session ended at 3.30am on the morning of 10 March 1967. Work continued on Getting Better on the evenings of March 10, 21 & 23.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 8, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording at EMI Studios in London.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 7, 1967

The Beatles in the recording studio (Studio Two, EMI Studios, London). Additional overdubs are recorded for Lovely Rita, including harmony vocals, effects, and the ending percussive sound of a piece of toilet paper being blown through a haircomb. The session begins at 7:00 p.m. and ends at 2:30 a.m.

At the Bluecoat Chambers, in John Lennon’s hometown of Liverpool, Yoko Ono performs a “Concert of Music for the Mind.” The following day, she lectures to Liverpool College of Art students. “There are never any sounds at my concerts,“ she explains to them, “because the real music is in people’s minds.”

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 6, 1967

Recording, mixing: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Although The Beatles had finished the music for the song Sgt. Pepper's Lonely HEarts Club Band on March 3, 1967, it still wasn't complete. During this session they added sound effects to give the impression of Sgt Pepper's band putting on a concert.

The sound of the band warming up came from the February 10th orchestral overdub for A Day In The Life- the session musicians had been recorded before the overdub began in case the sounds proved useful at a later date.

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band also required the sound of an audience taking their seats, applauding and laughing. These came from EMI's archive library of sound effects - the tapes in question were Volume 28: Audience Applause and Atmosphere, Royal Albert Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, and Volume 6: Applause and Laughter.

Towards the end of the session, which ran until 12.30am, two mono and eight stereo mixes of the song were made. These were numbered 2-3 and 1-8 respectively, and the last of each was used on the album.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 5, 1967

The Beatles in-between recording at EMI Studios in London.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 4, 1967

The Beatles were in-between recording at EMI Studios in London

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 3, 1967

Recording, mixing: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road

The brass overdub for the song Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was recorded during this session, and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds received its final mono mixes.

The Beatles had completed the rhythm parts for the Sgt Pepper title track on February 2, 1967, and the song was left dormant for a month until this day. Four session musicians were brought in to play the French horn parts: James W Buck, Neil Sanders, Tony Randall and John Burden.
 
They didn't really know what they wanted. I wrote out phrases for them based on what Paul McCartney was humming to us and George Martin. All four Beatles were there but only Paul took an active interest in our overdub.
John Burden The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

As he had done for the January 9, 1967 session for Penny Lane, John Lennon had the discussions and rehearsals recorded from the Studio Two control room. At the end of the session he took away the tape, its purpose unknown.

After the brass overdub was complete, Paul McCartney recorded lead guitar onto the song. It was then complete, bar the addition of sound effects, which were added on March 6, 1967.

The final task in the session was the creation of four mono mixes of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. The last of these was considered the best, and was used on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

The session began at 7pm and finished at 2.15am on the following day.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 2, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was one of the quickest Sgt. Pepper recordings, one night from the rhythm track, another for overdubs. This 7:00 pm to 3:30 am session took care of the latter, with a succession of vari-speeded vocal and instrument recordings being added to take eight. Eleven mono mixes completed the night's work, the last being considered 'best', albeit only until the next session.

 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 1, 1967

Studio Two, EMI Studios, London

Seven takes of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" were recorded in this 7:00 pm to 2:15 am session and then the seventh was reduced into take eight, ready for overdubbing. The first task of this session, was to add a new piano track onto take six of "A Day In The Life", an odd move considering hat the master mono and stereo mixes had already been made. Whatever the purpose, this additional overdub went unused.