- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Magical Mystery Tour (US LP - Mono) LP.
- EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road
More from year 1967
Some songs from this session appear on:
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On this day, The Beatles worked on an incidental piece of music for their “Magical Mystery Tour” TV special, which was eventually released as “Flying.” The session ran from 7 pm to 2:45 am, during which the group recorded six takes of the song. The working title was “Aerial Tour Instrumental.“
“Flying” is the first instrumental track that the Beatles released, though they had previously recorded “Cry For A Shadow” and “12-Bar Original,” which remained unreleased at the time. Notably, this track was the first to credit all four Beatles as composers.
“Flying” was an instrumental that we needed for Magical Mystery Tour so in the studio one night I suggested to the guys that we made something up. I said, ‘We can keep it very very simple, we can make it a twelve-bar blues. We need a little bit of a theme and a little bit of a backing.’ I wrote the melody. The only thing to warrant it as a song is basically the melody, otherwise it’s just a nice twelve-bar backing thing. It’s played on the Mellotron, on a trombone setting. It’s credited to all four, which is how you would credit a non-song.Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997
The group recorded six takes of ‘Flying’, with Paul McCartney on bass, John Lennon on organ, George Harrison on acoustic guitar and Ringo Starr on drums, all those instruments being recorded on track one of the four-track tape. Three organ overdubs were then added, with the tape running backwards, onto Take 6, filling the remaining three tracks. It is unknown which Beatle(s) played these overdubs.
Two reduction mixes, labelled takes 7 and 8, were then created to free up two tracks on the tape. Onto Take 8, Paul McCartney overdubbed the melody on a Mellotron, set to the trombone setting, and all four Beatles added chants to the song.
In addition to their own composition, the Beatles also used a stock tape that came with the Mellotron, featuring a traditional jazz-style recording called “Rhythms & Fills – Dixie Trombone” that included saxophone. This element, added at the end of the track, was not included in the final version of “Flying.”
Before the session ended, four mono mixes, labelled Remix Mono 1 to 4, were created. On September 28, 1967, new mono mixes of “Flying” were made, along with additional last-minute overdubs and edits.
I wrapped up my pre-vacation Beatles work with one last long session, during which they recorded the instrumental song entitled “Flying.” It was really nothing more than a twelve-bar blues born out of one of their late-night jams; I simply lifted out a few minutes of the best bits, they added a number of overdubs, and the song was complete. From the outset it was always meant to be just incidental music for the film, so nobody wanted to spend a lot of time on it. Ringo’s voice was the most prominent one on the chanting, and that was done deliberately because Paul wanted a different kind of vocal texture, one that wasn’t so obviously “Beatlish.” George Harrison’s guitar had a distinctive sound, too, because I used a DI box instead of miking his amp. The end result was a mellow, jazzy tone that we felt perfectly complemented the tasty part he was playing.Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006
[…] Next on the agenda came the instrumental, “FLYING”, which was started on September 8. John plays the main tune on his Highly Intelligent Trained Mellotron and Paul and George play an assortment of guitars. The whole group got together to do the chanting bit later on in the arrangement and at the end electronic sounds take over. John and Ringo built up these sounds in the studio and you hear some of their recorded tape loops played backwards. […]Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°54, January 1968
Last updated on April 8, 2023
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!
The third book of this critically - acclaimed series, nominated for the 2019 Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) award for Excellence In Historical Recorded Sound, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 3: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band through Magical Mystery Tour (late 1966-1967)" captures the band's most innovative era in its entirety. From the first take to the final remix, discover the making of the greatest recordings of all time. Through extensive, fully-documented research, these books fill an important gap left by all other Beatles books published to date and provide a unique view into the recordings of the world's most successful pop music act.
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.