- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Anthology 3 Official album.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
More from year 1968
Some songs from this session appear on:
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This twelve-hour session (from 6:40 pm to 6:30) started with the creation of new mono mixes for “Hey Jude“. On the previous day, a copy of the mono mix made at Trident Studios, on August 6, 1968, was made. Listening to this copy, on this day, came with a bad surprise, as remembered by engineer Ken Scott:
I went to Trident to see the Beatles doing Hey Jude and was completely blown away by it. It sounded incredible. A couple of days later, back at Abbey Road, I got in well before the group. Acetates were being cut and I went up to hear one. On different equipment, with different EQ levels and different monitor settings, it sounded awful, nothing like it had at Trident.
Later on, I was sitting in number two control room and George Martin came in. I said ‘George, you know that stuff you did at Trident?’ ‘Yes – how does it sound?’ I said ‘In all honesty, it sounds terrible!’ ‘What?’ ‘There’s absolutely no high-end on it, no treble.’
Just then Paul McCartney came in and George said to him ‘Ken thinks Hey Jude’ sounds awful’. The look that came from Paul towards me… if looks could kill, it was one of those situations. Anyway, they went down to the studio floor, clearly talking about it, and one by one all the other Beatles came in and joined them. I could see them talking and then look up at me, and then talk again, and then look at me. I thought, ‘Oh God, I’m going to get thrown off the session’. Finally, they all came storming up and said ‘OK, let’s see if it’s as bad as you say. Go get the tape and we’ll have a listen’. Luckily, they agreed with me, it did sound bad. We spent the rest of the evening trying to EQ it and get some high-end on it. But for a while there I wanted to crawl under a stone and die.Ken Scott, engineer – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
Geoff Emerick, who at this stage was not involved in The Beatles sessions anymore, was then asked to help:
It was about an hour or so later that George (Martin) spotted me in the hallway and asked me to help out…’Geoff, are you busy doing something right now?’ he asked. ‘No, I’m just on my way to dinner,’ I replied. ‘Ah, good,’ he said. ‘Would you mind coming in and having a listen to something?’ George opened the control room door and I saw four very unhappy Beatles gathered around a flustered Ken Scott, who was tweaking the controls of a piece of outboard equipment that we called a Curve Bender. The song they were listening to was called ‘Hey Jude’…the recording quality was poor, with no top end whatsoever.
When the playback ended, George said, ‘I’ve got a visitor here who might be able to help.’ Paul was the first to spot me; he broke into a big grin and gave me a wave from the back of the room. ‘Ah, the prodigal son returns!,’ John called out brightly. Even George Harrison gave me a warm handshake and said quietly, ‘Hello, Geoff. Thanks for stopping in – we really appreciate it.’
‘The boys recorded and mixed this track at Trident a few days ago,’ George Martin explained, ‘and we’re having a bit of difficulty getting it to sound right. Would you mind having a go?’ Ken (Scott) looked up from the console. ‘I listened to the tracks at Trident and they sounded fine,’ he told me anxiously, ‘but when we got back here…well, you can hear how bad it is.’ Obviously something at Trident had been misaligned, and the only hope of salvaging the mix was to whack on massive amounts of treble equalization. I walked over to the console and Ken motioned for me to sit down. John Smith rewound the tape repeatedly while I worked at the controls. Eventually we got it to sound pretty good, although the track still didn’t have the kind of in-your-face presence that characterizes most Beatles recordings done at Abbey Road…I might not have done anything that Ken himself wasn’t doing – I think that all they really wanted was my stamp of approval. All four Beatles thanked me profusely as I left.Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006
The root cause of the problem was explained in “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018):
It was discovered, in time for later Beatles recordings at Trident, that part of the problem was due to the studio’s American tape machines being set to the US equalisation curve NAB, while Abbey Road used the UK standard CCIR. To resolve this in the future, Trident tapes were always copied at Abbey Road with the correct NAB setting during playback.From “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018)
Three mono mixes were made, the last of which was issued as the single.
After the work on “Hey Jude” was over, The Beatles continued working on George Harrison’s “Not Guilty“, which they had begun work on the previous day. Like on the previous day, George Harrison played electric guitar, Paul McCartney bass and Ringo Starr drums. John Lennon switched from electric piano to harpsichord.
According to Mark Lewisohn in “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions“, still trying to capture a satisfying basic rhythm track, they recorded 51 takes on this day, bringing the number to take 101, with take 99 considered the best. But in “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018), the details vary:
[…] They kept going until take 97. There were several reduction mixes of this take in which drums and bass were combined on track one and harpsichord and guitar were mixed on track two. When a third attempt at a reduction mix took the number of takes to 100, Ken Scott made a point of marking this milestone by announcing the number with tape echo on his voice! The final reduction mix – called take 102 – was given overdubs the following night.
Mark Lewisohn indicates that the reduction mix, called take 102, was created on August 9, not August 8.
At the end of the session, copies were made of the mono masters of “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” and were taken away by George Martin.
Last updated on August 22, 2021
The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.
We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!
If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.