Recording "Thingumybob"

Sunday, June 30, 1968 • For Black Dyke Mills Band

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Thingumybob / Yellow Submarine 7" Single.
Timeline More from year 1968

Some songs from this session appear on:


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On this day, Paul McCartney was in Saltaire near Bradford, to act as producer for The Black Dyke Mills Band. The brass band recorded two songs – the Paul McCartney penned “Thingumybob” (which he wrote to serve as the theme tune for an eponymous TV comedy series) and The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine“.

They are fabulous. This band plays my dad’s type of music. But even so I have enjoyed the session so much that I’d like to do another, bigger piece with a brass band.

Paul McCartney – From Melody Maker, July 13, 1968

From examinerlive.co.uk, April 14, 2020:

In June 1968, Paul McCartney arrived in Bradford to record a performance with, in his words, “the best (brass) band in the land”. Recordings were made of the Black Dyke Mills Band, in the street in Saltaire and at the village’s Victoria Hall, of Thingumybob and a brass version of Yellow Submarine. The recordings were released as a single in September 1968 on Apple Records. The A-side was Thingumybob, an instrumental composed by Lennon and McCartney which was the theme tune to a TV sitcom of the same name. The B-side was a brass instrumental version of Yellow Submarine. Both were produced by McCartney.

Photographs from the visit show the world-famous Beatle in Saltaire accompanied by his Old English sheepdog Martha ‘My Dear’.

Black Dyke Band, which was formed in Queensbury in 1816, has made over 350 recordings and has recorded with acts including Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel and The Beautiful South.

When Paul McCartney was faced with the challenge of producing his theme song for the London TV show ‘Thingumybob’ he decided to forget studio musicians, and the sophistication of formal studios and took himself up the trunk road which splits England from top to bottom. Up from exciting London to industrial Bradford in the north where, in an ancient city, he recorded The Black Dyke Mills Band in their home town. The results are strong and amazingly contemporary for within the song there are those strange, unique touches of the Beatle-flair. The ‘B’ side is ‘Yellow Submarine,’ one of the great youth marching songs of all time played as a march as it is begged to be played. Be played by them. March to them yourselves across the living room, be young again, and brave.

Derek Taylor – From the US press release

While in Saltaire, Paul was interviewed by Tony Cliff for the local BBC Television program “Look North“.

On the way home, Paul, accompanied by Derek Taylor and Peter Asher, stopped in a pub in a small Bedfordshire village named Harrold. He went to the piano and played a few songs, including his new composition “Hey Jude“.

We wound through Bedfordshire checking off the signs steadily until we reached the village sign. Harrold. Oh it was a joyful sight.

It was the village we were supposed to have fought the world wars to defend, for which we would be expected to fight the third when told to, but won’t. It was a Miniver hamlet on the Ouse and there were notices telling of the fete next Saturday and a war memorial which made me weep.

Thrushes and blackbirds sang and swallows dived into thatches and a little old mower wheezed as we walked down the only street there was past the inn which was closed and the church which was open nodding to a sandy man with 1930s moustache and khaki shorts as he clipped his hedge and stared at these city people with funny hair and clothes.

Derek Taylor – As Time Goes By: Living In The Sixties

After a while, thoughts were on something to eat. In those days few pubs served food. Pat suggested that she could provide something, so we trooped back to Mulberry Lodge, where she managed to produce a sumptuous meal. Paul showed his humanity by visiting Pat’s father, at that time an invalid in bed, and had a long chat with him. He also played a pink piano which was in the room, commenting that he had never seen one which was pink before!

We had a lovely evening of conversation and music and food and wine. Our younger daughter, Shuna, produced a child-size guitar, which Paul tuned by putting two coins under the bridge and then proceeded to play in his normal left-handed manner. He played and sang throughout the evening and then told us he had a new song – not yet recorded – called Hey Jude, which he sang several times. Shayne, our other daughter, was so unfazed by what was happening that she retired to bed to read a book!

We had long chats about his life as a pop star and what it was like to be so famous and so well off so early in one’s life, and he related some of the difficulties it was creating for him.

They all were the nicest people one could wish to meet, and great fun, and it was a very special evening. Pat, in particular, always felt great respect and affection for Paul and took great interest in his career and life, until her death in 2002.

Gordon Mitchell, March 2008
Paul McCartney with The Black Dyke Mills Band, 1968.
From Fifty years ago, Paul McCartney visited Bradford to record with ‘the best band in the land’ – YorkshireLive (examinerlive.co.uk) – Paul McCartney at the Victoria Hall, Saltaire, 30th June 1968
From Fifty years ago, Paul McCartney visited Bradford to record with ‘the best band in the land’ – YorkshireLive (examinerlive.co.uk)Paul McCartney at the Victoria Hall, Saltaire, 30th June 1968
From Fifty years ago, Paul McCartney visited Bradford to record with ‘the best band in the land’ – YorkshireLive (examinerlive.co.uk) – Paul McCartney with The Black Dyke Mills Band in Saltaire, 30 June 1968
From Fifty years ago, Paul McCartney visited Bradford to record with ‘the best band in the land’ – YorkshireLive (examinerlive.co.uk) – Paul McCartney with The Black Dyke Mills Band in Saltaire, 30 June 1968
From Facebook – 30 June 1968 Photo by Tony Evans © (https://www.tonyevans-timelapse.com/biography)

Beatle Paul McCartney joined forces with the National Brass Band champions, the Black Dyke Mills Band, at Shipley, Yorkshire, last Sunday to record the soundtrack of “Thingamebob,” (sic) the new London Week-End TV comedy series set for the autumn.

Paul has written the score for this show, which will feature Stanley Holloway. The script is by Kenneth Cope.

The session, with Apple Records A&R man Peter Asher in charge, also saw a single in the can with the Black Dyke Band recording this after the sound track had been completed. Both the sound track and the A side of the single is “Thingamebob,” named after the show’s title. Release date for the single is tentatively fixed for next month.

I have enjoyed the session tremendously but, really, it is my dad’s type of music,” said Paul afterwards, “I would still like to do a bigger piece with a brass band as good as this one,” he added.

Backing for the “Black Dyke Plays Paul McCartney” single will be their version of “Yellow Submarine.”

From Melody Maker – June 7, 1968
From Melody Maker – June 7, 1968

One of the strangest ever permutations of Britain’s best musical talent of two spheres — Beatle Paul McCartney and National Brass Band champions, the Black Dyke Mills Band — joined forces along with a hundred young shouting, singing Shipley fans at the Victoria Hall in this Yorkshire town for a recording which had hit written all over it.

The occasion was the recording of the theme music for the London Weekend TV new comedy series titled “Thingumybob” which is screened this autumn starring Stanley Holloway.

Paul wrote the music and Kenneth Cope the script. The music is also being released by Apple Records by a single, probably next month, with a march version of “Yellow Submarine” on the B side.

How did this unlikely combination of musical talent arise? “Paul did the score for brass and we tried it with a band in London. Then, as we wanted the best, we asked around and everyone said, ‘get the Black Dyke’ — so here we are,” said a delighted Apple A&R manager Peter Asher, who took charge of the session.

The Black Dykes, under conductor Geoff Brand, rose to the occasion like the champions they are. During one break in takes, Brand told the huge gathering of press men and bandsmens’ relatives, “Shhh… we are doing a masterpiece.

His obvious delight at having the opportunity of tackling a piece of Beatle music in the brass idiom was obvious throughout this Sunday morning session in the sunshine. For an outside session followed that in the hall.

Asher, on leaving the control room, said, “They (the band) are fabulous.” Paul echoed these sentiments but added, “This band plays my dad’s type of music. But even so I have enjoyed the session so much that I’d like to do another, bigger piece with a brass band.

Throughout the session Paul was with the band in thought as he aped Brand in bringing in the trombones then the cornets or drum sections. In between came the inevitable autograph signing sessions.

When he thought a take lacked something he managed to get all the mums, dads, sons and daughters and — a not inconsiderable achievement — the galaxy of reporters and photographers to join in by singing and shouting at the end of the “Yellow Submarine” recording.

The idea for this number came from the dual purpose of the recording session. “Thingumybob” went down for the TV show and the single and the “Submarine” was an obvious B side.

Both, I’ll wager, add up to hit material. For the music sounds at once typically Beatle in style and yet tailormade for the brass band work. How can it fail with these two substantial backings?

Paul’s part in all this was rather that of professional spectator. One felt he was like the author watching his book being turned into a film. There was no doubting his obvious desire to “have a go” at times and, when a cornettist handed him an instrument during the outdoor session it became too much.

He tried his hand — and the outcome sounded like every young scout when he joins a band for the first time! But an example of the McCartney pull over critical faculties was provided by one group of girls who shouted, “You sound fabulous, Paul.

There was one other little failure but everyone forgave the culprit his error — and smiled in the process.

It came at the end of one take which was climaxed with a sound from rattles, whistles, bells and shouting bystanders. As Brand signalled the end and pursed his lips for seconds of silence, in wandered Martha, Paul’s huge, shaggy, Old English sheep-dog and whined in protest at the din. I can’t say I blamed her.

The recording incidentally has nothing to do with “Yellow Submarine,” the cartoon film, released on July 18, for which the Beatles have written the soundtrack.

From Melody Maker, July 13, 1968
From Melody Maker, July 13, 1968

One day soon (when the cider wears off, and my cold is better, and I’m physically and mentally capable of telling it like it was), I’m going to go into the full story of the brass band and the Beatle; the happiness in the children’s eyes and on the grey face of Bradford; the Rolls-Royce voyage down the Ml, the soul-searching at Newport Pagnell; Max Wax the Killer and Big Lovable Martha; the peace and friendship of the people of Harrold… beer and cider and cold pie and crisps in the Magpie… and sad, happy songs of love sung by Paul McCartney in a village dentist’s house in the still small hours of the morning.

Suffice to, at the moment, that Paul and his very human friends Derek Taylor, Peter Asher and Tony Bramwell were in Bradford at the weekend, and that the result was a breezy single of a McCartney instrumental called “Thingumebob” recorded by the Black Dyke Mills Band.

The atmosphere was marvellous. First of all they did “Thingumebob” in the smoke-black Victoria Hall, then we all trooped out into the sunshine for an “outdoor” sound in Exhibition Road.

All the children cheered and shouted on a version of “Yellow Submarine” on the B-side, Paul’s great big dog Martha slept at his feet, and the local reporters asked earnest questions about whether brass bands were to be the big new trendy thing from the Beatles. Eee, it twere a grand day. And you don’t get likes of that every day of the week in Bradford, lad, believe you me.

Sandwiched between the recording session and staggering home in London at 5.30am, I have a million memories and a long taped conversation with Paul in which he had a go at me, I had a go at him, Peter Asher and Derek Taylor nicely kept the balance, and we all came out of it knowing a great deal more about each other than before.

It was also the best drink-up and general night out I’ve had since sliced bread, and my heartfelt thanks for a nice piece of living go out to Paul, Derek Taylor and Co. (for the lift), the villagers of Harrold (for being real-people) and to Gordon the Irish dentist and his wife Pat (for feeding us all at 3 am with such pleasant meat and rice).

Just give me a few weeks to go on holiday and sort myself out, that’s all I ask, and then I’ll be back with the details in a clear and (I hope) readable form. Right at this moment, I couldn’t even try!

From New Musical Express, July 6, 1968
From New Musical Express, July 6, 1968

Some weeks ago I begged to be excused from the full sotry of Paul McCartney and the village of Harrold, which began in Bradford one hot Sunday afternoon and ended with me staggering home in London in the thin, cold light of the Monday dawn. The Cider had got me.

It was also right there in the middle of my holiday, and I wanted the time to sit down and write about it as it was. And it was, as I still remember vividly, a dusk-to-dawn encounter that taught me a great deal about the Inner Mind of the Amiable Mr. McCartney and at least a little about myself.

It all started when Paul, Peter Asher, Derek Taylor and Tony Bramwell kindly offered me a lift back to London after the recording of the Black Dyke Mills Band.

One hour and a half later we were still in Bradford, sitting in the deserted hotel, talking to people, drinking tee, being friendly. A BBC TV unit turned up and Paul stood outside in the sun to be filmed chatting up some of the local talent.

We leave. The thermometer inside the Rolls has been at 110, but a touch of the button and the window opens and a nice breeze blows around us via Paul’s giant sheepdog Martha. On and on to the M1. Miles and miles of white concrete. Conversation. Paul pushing buttons on the radio and hearing the Marmalade’s “Lovin’ Things” with eyes wide open… “Fantastic. Get that bit”

Alan Freeman’s “Pick of the Pops”. Des O’Connor’s “I Pretend”… “but he’s a nice bloke” says somebody. Esther and Abi’s “One More Dance”. “God,” says Paul, “are the charts all like this?” Push of the button — “Sing Something Simple” on Radio 2. Community singing… we all join in “Music, Maestro, Please” and “Michael Row The Boat”. Well, it’s a laugh, isn’t it?! And there’s only that damn concrete, stretching on and on along the M1.

Boredom. Brilliant wit of Apple PRO Derek Taylor (ex-Hoylake, Cheshire, ex-“Daily Express”, ex an interesting and satisfying life in America and elsewhere ever since) comes to the fore. Fills in two Diners’ Club application forms, one from Max Wax, “Professional Killer,” the other from Norman Prince, of Wallasey, “part-time joiner at Grayson, Rollo and Clover” on Merseyside. No chance!

Back to “Pick of the Pops.” Easybeats’ “Good Times” slamming out of the speaker, Paul, Peter Asher and all knocked out by the sheer guts of it.

Sudden decision to get away from the M1 and an Asher eye sees the name “Harrold,” a Bedfordshire village. We head towards it but “Good Times” is still, kicking. around in people’s heads and the car is stopped and an attempt made to get through to Alan Freeman and say what about putting it on again?

No luck. Choked faces in the call-box. It’s a live show, isn’t it, but they won’t even put you through to the studio.

All you get is some stuffed-shirt Duty Officer saying it is not possible to make contact with Mr. Freeman during the course of the programme. (And Mr. Freeman, when I tell him later, is choked about it himself. They didn’t even give him the message). Two scruffy. urchins go by, bless ‘em, with dirt on their faces and their shirts hanging out, and they look up at the big Rolls and then at the famous passenger in the back. But there is no recognition. They walk on their way.

Eventually, Harrold.

Early Sunday evening, and only the sound of feet crunching along the road and birds singing and Paul asking: “So where’s the Ouse then?” — hadn’t Derek said we could find the River Ouse somewhere around there, and what are we doing stumbling around fields when we could be in the local village pub?

Bearded man in garden shows no immediate reaction to request from Paul for whereabouts of local boozer, delivered in heavy Liverpool accent, but gives Irish-accent directions to the Magpie down the road.

This turns out to be a cosy little place the size of a bathroom, with a Jolly Joker machine in the corner and a dartboard behind the door.

All of us are speakin’ like we do in d’Pool, wack, but there is no reaction from the customers to the effect that here is an international star sitting in their pub eating a piece of pie and drinking a beer and dipping into a bag of crisps. They’re all British, aren’t they? — nobody is going to blow his cool.

The only thing is that from time to time the door opens and somebody is standing there red-faced and gasping for breath as if he’s just finished a two-minute mile, and immediately a corner of his eye falls on Paul he forcibly regains his composure and walks casually over to the bar. But what I asked myself in one case, is: that particular customer doing wearing “I Love The Beatles” badge on his lapel in his local pub on Sunday?

The Bearded Irishman arrives with his wife Pat, and we get talking to him and he turns out to be a most genial man named Gordon who is the local dentist.

I’m not too sure about the rest of it (the Cider, you see – it was the Cider), but. the memories include a visit to another pleasant pub and Paul at the piano in the half-light, gravelling out Fats Domino songs like “Blueberry Hill” and. “Red Sails In The Sunset” and then a visit to the home of Gordon and Pat for meat and rice and more cider and wine

The children came downstairs in their dressing gowns in the wee small hours and play hide and seek, bashful about being seen by their famous guest until he shows one of the little girls some magic tricks and wins her confidence.

Time drifts on. Is it 3am? Four? The room is almost dark, but Paul sits at the head of the table, head dipped over acoustic guitar singing songs I have never heard before.

The voice aches over words of sadness and I wish, only wish, I could recall them now

They have to be from the next LP, I remember thinking, and pulling out a cheque book and trying to write some notes on the back. Something went wrong somewhere. All I see now is some faint scribble.

Time to go. Farewells to Pat and Gordon and the family. The crunch of the Rolls on gravel, then out on the road to London and conversations about people and life.

St Johns Wood. The first light of dawn. Farewell to Paul outside the high walls of his home and then on in the car to my part of town.

Trip over the dustbins.

Turn the keys.

Bed.

From New Musical Express, October 8, 1968
From New Musical Express, October 8, 1968

Last updated on September 30, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Thingumybob

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording


2.

Yellow Submarine

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording

Staff

Musicians

Production staff

Paul McCartney:
Producer

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.

Have a look at https://www.beatlesbible.com/1968/06/30/paul-mccartney-records-thingumybob-by-black-dyke-mills-band/

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