- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Abbey Road LP.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
- EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road
More from year 1969
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There were two sessions on this day. From 2:30 pm to 6 pm, John Lennon’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” was completed. From 6 pm to 1:15 am, the running order of the album was finalized.
This was the last day with the four Beatles together in a recording studio.
On August 8, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” received some overdubs added onto the master done at Trident Studios on February 23, without the overdubs recorded on April 20, 1969. On August 11, harmony vocals were overdubbed onto take 1 from April 20 but those were also edited into the original Trident Studios master.
On this day, the two versions were mixed – eight attempts at creating the stereo mix of take 1, two attempts for the Trident version. It was then decided to combine the two versions to create the final release. The April 20 version was used for the first four minutes and 37 seconds; the Trident version was used for the rest of the track (ending at 7’47”).
The abrupt ending was also decided on this day:
We were putting the final touches to that side of the LP and we were listening to the mix. John said ‘There! Cut the tape there’. Geoff [Emerick] cut the tape and that was it. End of side one!Alan Parsons, engineer – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
John remained indecisive until the last minute about which version of “I Want You” he even wanted me to mix — there were several backing tracks that had been recorded at Trident back in April, two of which had received overdubs. In the end, Lennon had me edit together two of them; the splice comes right after his last “She’s so…” It was like working on “Strawberry Fields Forever” all over again, but this time around, thankfully, both takes were in the same key and at the same tempo.
And then there was the matter of how the song would end. When they recorded the backing track, the Beatles had just played on and on, with no definitive conclusion, so I assumed I would be doing a fadeout. John had
other ideas, though. He let the tape play until just twenty seconds or so before the take broke down, and then all of a sudden he barked out an order: “Cut the tape here.”
“Cut the tape?” I asked, astonished. We had never ended a song that way, and an abrupt ending like that didn’t make any sense unless the track was going to run directly into another one. But that wasn’t the case here, because it had already been decided that “I Want You” was to close side one of the album. My protestations had no impact on John: his decision was absolute.
“You heard what I said, Geoff; cut the tape.”Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006
The second session saw the Beatles finalizing the running order of the album:
At this point, [the album] had two variations from the final, released format: the two sides of the album were reversed, i.e. side B was side A and vice versa, so that the medley was on side A and the album finished with the slashed guitar chord of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. And the placing of “Octopus’s Garden” and “Oh! Darling” was transposed, with “Octopus’s Garden” first.From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
Last updated on August 23, 2022
Master tape banding and tape copying
Recording • Abbey Road LP
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!
Acclaimed Beatles historian Kenneth Womack offers the most definitive account yet of the writing, recording, mixing, and reception of Abbey Road. In February 1969, the Beatles began working on what became their final album together. Abbey Road introduced a number of new techniques and technologies to the Beatles' sound, and included "Come Together," "Something," and "Here Comes the Sun," which all emerged as classics.
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.