"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.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
More from year 1968
Some songs from this session appear on:
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On this day, The Beatles did a second remake of “Sexy Sadie” (the first version was recorded on July 19, 1968 ; they worked on the first remake on July 24). They recorded eight takes of it, numbered from 100, with John Lennon on electric guitar and guide vocal, Paul McCartney on piano recorded with an echo effect, George Harrison on tambourine, and Ringo Starr on drums.
This is another of John’s bluesy story ballads and he backs himself on Gibson acoustic guitar. George plays Gibson electric and the pianist is Paul. Sexy Sadie (“the latest and the greatest of them all”) made a fool of everyone.Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°64, November 1968
Take number 107 was considered the best. Four reduction mixdowns were then created (numbered from 108 to 111 – they would not be used) and overdubs began on August 21.
The Beatles also started working on “Yer Blues“, and decided to record it in room 2A, adjacent to the control room of EMI Studios Studio Two!
George [Harrison] had this idea that he wanted to do it in the control room with the speakers blasting, so that he got more of an on-stage feel…I remember that John Lennon came in at one point and I turned to him and said, ‘Bloody hell, the way you lot are carrying on you’ll be wanting to record everything in the room next door!’ The room next door was tiny, where the four-track tape machines were once kept, and it had no proper studio walls or acoustic set-up of any kind. Lennon replied, ‘That’s a great idea; let’s try it on the next number!’ The next number was ‘Yer Blues’ and we literally had to set it all up – them and the instruments – in this minute room. That’s how they recorded ‘Yer Blues,’ and it worked out great!Ken Scott – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
We had to fit all four of them in that tiny room and they literally couldn’t move. They had to find a position with their guitars and not move, or they would hit someone in the face or in the guitar. And that’s where we cut the track. So input came in a lot of different ways, and they were always up to trying anything new.Ken Scott – from Interview: Ken Scott, Part 1: Recording with The Beatles & Inside the Studio – Premier Guitar, February 25, 2010
This is one of the things that makes you play great, when you’re packed together. We knew that in the Beatles. We always used to record in Abbey Road, Studio 2. But for “Yer Blues,” we were talking about this tightness, this packed-in-a-tin thing. So we got in a little cupboard – a closet that had microphone leads and things, with a drum kit, amps turned to the walls, one mic for John. We did “Yer Blues” live and it was really good.Paul McCartney – from Paul McCartney Looks Back: The Rolling Stone Interview, August 2016
And “Yer Blues” on the White Album, you can’t top it. It was the four of us. That is what I’m saying: it was really because the four of us were in a box, a room about eight by eight, with no separation. It was this group that was together; it was like grunge rock of the Sixties, really – grunge blues.Ringo Starr – From the Beatles Anthology Book
People that heard us in Liverpool and Hamburg, and on the early dates before we turned into just a mass scream, that’s how we played – heavy rock. But when it was put down on the early records, there was never enough bass in it, the guitar solo never came through, because we didn’t know about recording then. We sounded more like us on [the White Album]. We rid ourselves of the self-consciousness bit, so we were doing what we were doing earlier on, but with a better knowledge of the technique of recording. Quite a few of the tracks are just straight takes of us playing.John Lennon in 1968 – From “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018)
Fourteen takes were recorded, with John Lennon and George Harrison on guitars, Paul McCartney on bass, and Ringo Starr on drums. John also sang a guide vocal, not recorded, but faintly captured by other microphones in that small room. Paul sang with him on certain parts such as “Girl, you know the reason why“. Take 5 was released on the White Album’s 50th anniversary re-release in 2018.
Between take 8 and 9, Paul took a break and the other three Beatles played an instrumental jam.
At the end of the process, they were satisfied with takes 6 and 14. Two tape reductions of take 6 – named takes 15 and 16 – were made. And a tape reduction of take 14 was named take 17. Takes 16 and 17 were subsequently edited together.
For the first time on a Beatles recording, the original four-track tape was itself edited (editing was usually done only at the two-track quarter-inch tape stage), bringing the beginning of take 17 onto the end of take 16. On the finished record the edit is quite clear: it occurs at 3’17” into the song and runs through to the fade-out.From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
The session, which had started at 7 pm, ended at 5:30 am. Some more work on “Yer Blues” would be done on the following day.
Last updated on September 11, 2021
Recording • Take 100
Recording • Take 101
Recording • Take 102
Recording • Take 103
Recording • Take 104
Recording • Take 105
Recording • Take 106
Recording • Take 107
Tape copying • Tape reduction take 107 into take 108
Tape copying • Tape reduction take 107 into take 109
Tape copying • Tape reduction take 107 into take 110
Tape copying • Tape reduction take 107 into take 111
Recording • Take 5
Album Officially released on The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)
Musicians on "Yer Blues"
- Paul McCartney:
- Ringo Starr:
- John Lennon:
- Lead guitar, Guide vocal
- George Harrison:
- Lead guitar
Musicians on "Sexy Sadie"
- Paul McCartney:
- Ringo Starr:
- John Lennon:
- Rhythm guitar, Guide vocal
- George Harrison:
- George Martin:
- Ken Scott:
- John Smith:
- Second Engineer
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 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.
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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