Recording "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!"

Friday, February 17, 1967 • For The Beatles

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK Mono) LP.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Songs recorded


1.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 1


2.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 2


3.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 3



5.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 5


6.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 6



8.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 7 into take 8


9.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 7 into take 9


10.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 9


11.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 9

Staff

Musicians on "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!"

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Backing vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Lead vocals
George Harrison:
Tambourine, Backing Vocals
George Martin:
Harmonium

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Richard Lush:
Second engineer

About

On this day, from 7 pm to 3 am, The Beatles started recording “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!” The session began with a series of rehearsals, with eight recorded. This was followed by seven proper takes, featuring John Lennon singing a guide vocal, Paul McCartney playing bass, George Harrison on tambourine, Ringo Starr on drums and George Martin on harmonium.

Takes 1 and 2 were false starts. They were released on “Anthology 2” in 2016. An interesting tidbit from the session includes John meticulously correcting engineer Geoff Emerick about the precise title of the song before diving into Take 1.

Geoff Emerick: This is For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!’ take one.

John Lennon: No. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!’

From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn, 1988

A speech line from John recorded before Take 1 was also released in the 2017 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” box set, combined with the complete Take 4 and some additional speech. At the end of this track, John is heard conversing with George Martin, humorously suggesting, “We’ll have the Massed Alberts on by then, won’t we?” This remark was a nod to the Massed Alberts, a British music and comedy group from the ’50s and ’60s, once under the production baton of George Martin himself. According to the book “That Magic Feeling: The Beatles’ Recorded Legacy – Volume 2 (1966-1970)” by John C. Winn, this line by John is buried at 6:38 of “Plastic Beetle,” a track from Paul McCartney’s experimental album “Liverpool Sound Collage,” released in 2000.

Of all takes, Take 7 was deemed the best and already conveyed a circus atmosphere. It was released on “Anthology 2“, crossfaded near the end with the organ and calliope effects tape prepared on February 20, 1967. It was re-released in the 2017 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” box set, with a different introduction and without the crossfaded effects.

Due to the four-track tape being full, Take 7 underwent reduction mixes, resulting in Takes 8 and 9, thereby freeing up two tracks on the tape. Of these, Take 9 was considered the best, with the bass and harmonium occupying track one and the drums and tambourine on track two.

The session progressed with John layering his lead vocals, complemented by Paul and George’s backing vocals, all captured on track three. Notably, John’s vocals were recorded at a slightly reduced speed of 49 cycles per second, as opposed to the standard 50, imparting a marginally higher pitch to his voice upon playback.

The session ended with a rough mono mix created from Take 9, with studio records indicating that it was Paul McCartney, rather than John Lennon, who took this mix home

Work on “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!” continued on February 20, 1967.


John Lennon always had a precise title for each of his songs, and woe betold any of us who didn’t get it correct. I learned that the hard way one night when I slated a take in a hurry and mistakenly shortened the title to ‘For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite.’ John immediately corrected me in an irritated tone of voice: ‘No, that’s “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite.”’

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

The backing track to “Kite” was quite simple: Paul on bass, Ringo on drums, and John doing a guide vocal, with George Martin enlisted to play harmonium. It did take quite a few tries to nail it down, though, which caused problems for George, because the harmonium required pedaling to get air through its bellows, kind of like riding a bicycle. After playing it nonstop for hours on end, he finally collapsed in exhaustion, sprawled out on the floor like a snow angel — a sight that gave us all great amusement.

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

I remember only too well pumping away with my feet at that bloody harmonium for hour after hour, trying to get it right, and being absolutely knackered, heart going at about 130 beats to the minute. It was like climbing up a steep flight of stairs non-stop. We would complete a take, I’d heave a sigh of relief, mop my sweatybrow, and then the dreaded call would come from John: ‘I wouldn’t mind doing that again, George. You all right there?’ The harmonium was a good idea, though, because it established a vaguely circusy atmosphere to the song straight off.

After we laid down the four basic rhythm tracks you can hear John saying in an ironic voice, ‘And after this we’ll have the Massed Alberts, won’t we, George?’ The ‘Massed Alberts’ were, or was, a bizarre and eccentric English comedy act, a duo I had recorded in the early days along with Spike Milligan. […] One of the Alberts played the trumpet rather badly, which is what John meant by his comment: it was time to add on ‘the clever stuff, the brass.

George Martin – From “With A Little Help From My Friends: The Making of Sgt. Pepper“, 1995

At one point, an exasperated John declared, “Maybe we should bring the Massed Alberts in to do an overdub.” The Massed Alberts were a comedy act produced by George Martin—an eccentric brass band that dressed ridiculously and featured euphonium and tuba. “Oh, honestly!” was George’s patronizing response. That was his stock expression of disapproval whenever he thought someone was talking nonsense.

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

Last updated on January 17, 2024

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