- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
- Timeline More from year 1968
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
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After a 3 months break from the recording studios, a trip to India where most of the new material was written, and a day of rehearsals at the end of May, The Beatles were back at EMI Studios to start the recording of their new album, which would officially be named “The Beatles” and unofficially called the White Album.
The studio had been booked from May 20 to July 26, Mondays to Fridays, from 2.30pm to 12.00pm each day. But the opening session was on May 30.
The day was spent recording the basic rhythm track for “Revolution 1” (simply titled “Revolution” for the first few sessions). Sixteen takes were recorded (numbered from 1 to 18 as there were no takes 11 and 12), with John Lennon on acoustic guitar, Paul McCartney on piano and Ringo Starr on drums.
Before take 13, Paul McCartney led the band into an improvisation mentioning the recent events in France – “Civil war is raging in France, the general cannot cope“. From May 68 – Wikipedia:
Beginning in May 1968, a period of civil unrest occurred throughout France, lasting some seven weeks and punctuated by demonstrations, general strikes, as well as the occupation of universities and factories. At the height of events, which have since become known as May 68, the economy of France came to a halt. The protests reached such a point that political leaders feared civil war or revolution; the national government briefly ceased to function after President Charles de Gaulle secretly fled France to Germany at one point. The protests spurred movements worldwide, with songs, imaginative graffiti, posters, and slogans
Take 18 lasted 10:17, much longer than the earlier takes, and was chosen to add the first overdubs. John Lennon added vocals and played Mellotron, Paul McCartney added a bass line (according to “The Beatles” super deluxe book, 2018, not according to “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn), and some electronic sound effects by Yoko Ono were also put into the mix. At 7:31, John Lennon is heard saying “Ok, I’ve had enough” but the band continued. Overall, the last six minutes were musical chaos, with discordant instruments, screams, overlay of sounds from Yoko Ono’s tape machines including non-sense phrases like “Maybe if you become naked“… This prefigured “Revolution 9” and several elements recorded on this day would be used on it. Where they left the song at the end of the day was released as an outtake on the reissue of “The Beatles” album in 2018.
Last updated on June 26, 2021
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions • Mark Lewisohn
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 Beatles Bible
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.
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