Recording "Revolution 9"

Thursday, June 20, 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 The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Master release


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About

On this day, Paul McCartney flew to the USA for a five-day trip just one hour before the session began. Only John Lennon and George Harrison were in the studio on this day, to work on “Revolution 9” and assemble the master tape. A rough mix was made at the end of the session. The track would be properly mixed the day after.

The work [on “Revolution 9“] culminated on 20 June, with Lennon performing a live mix from tape loops running on machines in all three studios at EMI Studios, but during the live mix, the STEED system ran out and the sound of the tape machine rewinding can be heard at the 5:11 mark and additional prose was overdubbed by Lennon and Harrison.

From Wikipedia

George Martin had booked all three Abbey Road studios for the complicated mix of the sound pastiche known as ‘Revolution 9.’…It was just John and a rather unenthusiastic George Harrison working on the track. The two of them, accompanied by Yoko, would occasionally venture out into the studio to whisper a few random words into a microphone. Just as we had done when we mixed ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ two years previously, every tape machine in the facility was required for the playback of tape loops, with every available maintenance engineer once again standing around in his white coat holding pencils in place. The big difference was that on this night there was a good deal of resentment among the staff because the session was running quite late – well past midnight – and they wanted to go home. I didn’t blame them; many of them had been there since nine in the morning – they didn’t turn up in mid afternoon like we did. Plus the session had to be dead boring for them because they couldn’t even hear any sound; they were just standing in the various control rooms, holding pencils while the tape went round and round. Occasionally one of the loops would break and they’d have to get on the phone and let us know, which, of course, annoyed John no end.

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

There were about ten machines with people holding pencils on the loops – some only inches long and some a yard long. I fed them all in and mixed them live. I did a few mixes until I got one I liked… I spent more time on ‘Revolution 9’ than I did on half the other songs I ever wrote. […] It was like a big organ or something, where I knew vaguely which track would come up if I did that and I’d try to pull out the ones I didn’t like. I just tried to get the bits of conversation in that I liked.

John Lennon, 1980

By the time of the ‘White Album,’ it was not uncommon for various Beatles to sit behind the mixing board alongside me; they were no longer afraid to touch the equipment. On this night John sat with me behind the console like a kid with a new toy. He was the composer and he knew what he wanted, so he manned the faders instead of me, although I served as an extra pair of hands, doing bits of panning and looking after the overall level so things didn’t get out of hand and distort.

The whole thing was extremely haphazard. If he’d raise a fader and there was no sound, he’d say, ‘Where’s it gone?’ A curse word might escape his lips from time to time, but that was about it. He never really lost his temper that night, though you could tell from his tone of voice that he was getting irritated. Yoko, as always, was by his side, whispering in John’s ear and lifting the odd fader on occasion. Every once in a while, Lennon would shoot a glance at George Martin and me to see if we approved of what he was doing. Personally, I thought the track was interesting, but it seemed as though it was as much Yoko’s as it was John’s. Certainly, it wasn’t Beatles music.

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

Last updated on September 11, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Revolution 9

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Sound effect take 1


2.

Revolution 9

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Sound effect take 2


3.

Revolution 9

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Compilation of master version, with SI

Staff

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!

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The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 4: The Beatles through Yellow Submarine (1968 - early 1969)

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.

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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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