Recording "Revolution"

Wednesday, July 10, 1968 • For The Beatles

Part of


"The Beatles" (aka the White Album) sessions

May 30 - Oct 18, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Hey Jude / Revolution 7" Single.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Master release


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About

Revolution 1“ had been recorded in May and June, and had been considered to be issued as the next Beatles single. But Paul McCartney and George Harrison thought that this version was not upbeat enough for a single.

When George and Paul and all of them were on holiday, I made ‘Revolution’ which is on the LP. I wanted to put it out as a single, but they said it wasn’t good enough…We recorded the song twice. The Beatles were getting real tense with each other. The first take, George and Paul were resentful and said it wasn’t fast enough. Now, if you go into the details of what a hit record is and isn’t, maybe. But The Beatles could have afforded to put out the slow, understandable version of ‘Revolution’ as a single, whether it was a gold record or a wooden record. But, because they were so upset over the Yoko thing and the fact that I was again becoming as creative and dominating as I was in the early days, after lying fallow for a couple of years, it upset the applecart. I was awake again and they weren’t used to it.

John Lennon, 1980

In the early days, George Martin had picked the songs that would comprise the A-side and B-side of a Beatles single. But by this point in their career, it would be the group’s decision; George might offer some input or suggestions, but it was their final call. Apparently, John and Paul had been arguing for some time about what would be the next A-side. John was pushing hard for ‘Revolution 1,’ but Paul resisted, telling John he thought it was too slow; eventually he brought George Martin in as an ally. Personally, I think Paul felt that the song simply wasn’t all that good, and he was using its slow tempo as an excuse not to have it released as a single, but John had defiantly taken him up on the challenge and so was insisting that they cut it again, faster.

Geoff Emerick

During the previous night, they started rehearsing a faster version. Proper recording work on “Revolution” started on this day. They recorded ten takes of the basic track, with two distorted guitars, and a drum track.

We got into distortion on that, which we had a lot of complaints from the technical people about. But that was the idea: it was John’s song and the idea was to push it right to the limit. Well, we went to the limit and beyond.

George Martin – from the Anthology book

What did John use on “Revolution” to create the fuzz tone? Was it a fuzz box or did he blow a speaker?

Neither. They were overdriving two of the mic preamps on an EMI REDD desk that was being used at the time. I was a mastering engineer at the beginning of the White Album recordings, and I happened to go to Studio 3, where they were recording that track. John, Paul and George were all in the control room and had their guitars plugged directly into the board, and Ringo was all on his own on the drums in the studio. Geoff Emerick came up with a very cool way to distort by going in one preamp to overload and into another preamp to distort it even more.

Ken Scott – From Interview: Ken Scott, Part 2: Musicians’ Questions About Recording with the Beatles – Premier Guitar

John wanted that sound, a really distorted sound. The guitars were put through the recording console, which was technically not the thing to do. It completely overloaded the channel and produced the fuzz sound. Fortunately the technical people didn’t find out. They didn’t approve of ‘abuse of equipment.’

Engineer Phil McDonald

Take 10 was deemed the best one, and overdubs brought an extra snare drum and handclaps. Three reduction mixes were then made – numbered takes 11 to 13.

John then added his lead vocal on take 13, and a second vocal track, “manually double-tracking the odd word here and there (and occasionally going wrong, though the mistakes went uncorrected because of the exciting live feel) to further force his points across” according to Mark Lewisohn.

Two reduction mixes were then made – take 14 and take 15. And the session ended with some rough mono mixes made for John to take home. The session, which started at 7pm, ended at 1.30am.

Yoko Ono and Paul’s American friend Francie Schwartz attended the session.

Work on “Revolution” would continue the day after.


From Melody Maker – July 13, 1968

Last updated on September 22, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 1


2.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 2


3.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 3


4.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 4


5.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 5


6.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 6


7.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 7


8.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 8


9.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 9


10.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 10


11.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 10 into take 11


12.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 10 into take 12


13.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 10 into take 13


14.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 13


15.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 13 into take 14

Album Officially released on The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)


16.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 13 into take 15

Staff

Musicians on "Revolution"

Paul McCartney:
Handclaps
Ringo Starr:
Handclaps, Drums
John Lennon:
Handclaps, Vocals, Electric guitar
George Harrison:
Handclaps, Electric guitar

Production staff

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

Going further


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!

Shop on Amazon


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.

Read more on The Beatles Bible

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