- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Lady Madonna / The Inner Light (UK - 1968) 7" Single.
- EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road
More from year 1968
Some songs from this session appear on:
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The plan for this day was for The Beatles to be filmed in the recording studio, to create a promo clip for “Lady Madonna“, the A-side of the upcoming single. What was not planned is that they would use the filming time to record a brand new song, “Hey Bulldog“, from start to finish, instead of miming “Lady Madonna“. The film was directed by Tony Bramwell, head of Apple Films.
The last session before India took place on Sunday February 11 — and we had a lot of cameramen in from Apple Films to make the film clips The Beatles wanted to have available for TV use here and in America to coincide with the release of the “Lady Madonna” single. But the day wasn’t set aside for filming — an entirely new number was rehearsed and recorded that day — one of the fastest session jobs The Beatles have accomplished in recent years. The number was John’s, one called “Hey Bulldog” made specially for the soundtrack of the colour cartoon film “Yellow Submarine” which we shall be seeing in the cinemas a bit later this year.Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°57, April 1968
On February 11, they recorded Hey Bulldog at Abbey Road, while I filmed the entire process. We didn’t need any promo material for Bulldog, but Paul had also recorded Lady Madonna, the song he had written in memory of his mother, which did need some promotional film. I cut the Bulldog shoot, using the bits of the lads playing and sitting about in the studio, and we used that. Then it vanished, completely disappeared. We thought it had been stolen, as things often were if not nailed down. Over thirty years later, in August 1999, my original film was rediscovered and used with a reissue of Bulldog to go with the revamped digital version of Yellow Submarine.Tony Bramwell – from “Magical Mystery Tours”
Even though it was destined to be given to the ‘Yellow Submarine’ film, ‘Hey Bulldog’ was a really strong song. The vibe that day was great – all four Beatles were in an exceptionally good mood because they knew they would be heading to India in a matter of days. Despite the fact that there was a film crew underfoot, it was a Sunday session, so things were quite relaxed – the Abbey Road complex was largely deserted, and The Beatles could wander around the corridors if they wanted to.Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006
At one point, Paul was helping John with the lyrics, but most of the song seemed to have been written and worked out before they got to the studio.Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006 – Quoted in beatlesebooks.com
This was also the first session attended by Yoko Ono, as John Lennon’s guest (she would be a recurring guest during the sessions for the White Album). At some point, she embarrassed her host by demanding to know why all The Beatles’ songs used exactly the same rhythm, and why they didn’t attempt something more adventurous.
“Hey Bulldog” was recorded in 10 takes for the basic track, with John Lennon on piano and guide vocal, George Harrison on rhythm guitar, Paul McCartney playing two tambourines (or bass in the first takes), and Ringo Starr on drums. Take 10 was considered the best one, and the one used to add overdubs.
After the camera crew left (and a dinner break), the overdub process started. Paul overdubbed his bass guitar, joined by George on a distorted guitar and additional off-beat drums from Ringo. John and Paul then added their double-tracked vocals, and Paul finished it up by adding a single-tracking backing vocal.
Once the recording was completed, George Martin and Geoff Emerick made two mono mixes. They decided to leave the dog barks, shouts, and screams in the final recording, at one point adding heavy compression to some of John’s dialogue and dog noises. They raised the song in pitch slightly, running the playback fast.
There’s a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end. We always tried to make every song different because we figured, why write something like the last one? We’ve done that.Paul McCartney – from “Many Years From Now”, by Barry Miles, 1997
That was a really fun song. We were all into sound texture in those days and during the mixing we put ADT (automatic double tracking) on one of the “What did he say? Woof woof” bits near the end of the song. It came out really well.Geoff Emerick – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
The session, which had started at 4 pm, ended at 2 am.
Last updated on September 17, 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!
The fourth book of this critically acclaimed series, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 4: The Beatles through Yellow Submarine (1968 - early 1969)" captures The Beatles as they take the lessons of Sgt. Pepper forward with an ambitious double-album that is equally innovative and progressive. 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.