- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Magical Mystery Tour (US LP - Mono) LP.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
More from year 1967
Some songs from this session appear on:
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On September 5 and 6, 1967, The Beatles recorded the backing track for their song “I Am The Walrus“. Later, on September 27, orchestra and choir overdubs were added to the track. On September 28, The Beatles and the engineering team started mixing the track in mono, and they continued the effort on this day.
During a previous session for “I Am The Walrus,” John Lennon came up with the idea of adding a live radio feed to the track.
At the time, John and Paul were both heavily into avant-garde music, especially compositions that were based upon randomness. At home, they often kept their televisions on with the sound turned off while simultaneously playing records. The next morning, they would regale us with tales of how the music often dovetailed, as if by magic, with the on-screen visuals. At one point, Paul even brought in a film projector so he could demonstrate the principle. George Martin was singularly unimpressed, but John was enthralled with the concept. As he listened to the playbacks of “I Am The Walrus,” he said, “You know, I think it would be great if I could put some random radio noise on the end of it — you know, just twiddling the dial, tuning into various stations to see what we get and how it fits with the music.”
George Martin made a show of rolling his eyes heavenward, but I told John that it was perfectly doable. I arranged to have a radio tuner brought down from the maintenance office so we could experiment with it. Given the studio’s arcane procedures—a formal memo had to be written and approved—and the fact that the big, bulky rack-mounted tuner had to be rewired and then patched into the mixing console, it was quite an undertaking and not something we could put together quickly, which the ever impatient John found highly frustrating. “Bloody EMI — can’t even get a radio organized!” he snapped. But his face lit up when we finally got the sound going, and he had a lot of fun twiddling the dial as the multitrack tape of “Walrus” played back.
Because we knew that there was still a lot to be overdubbed onto the song, there wasn’t a track free to record John’s experimentations, but he ended up repeating the exercise (with Ringo twiddling the dial) when the mono mix was done a couple of weeks later. (That’s the reason why “I Am The Walrus” can never be remixed: the radio wasn’t recorded on the multitrack. Instead, it was flown into the two-track, live, as the mix was occurring.)Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006
Later when it was time to mix “I Am the Walrus” John decided that something else was needed for the ending of the song, so Ringo was dispatched to a corner of the control room with a radio tuner to scan around the dial to different stations. What was tricky was that since we didn’t have any extra tracks to record it on, he had to perform the radio tuning live as the song was mixed. On one pass he hit on a performance of Shakespeare’s King Lear on the BBC’s Third Programme, which we all determined worked perfectly for the track. We kept the end of that take and decided to use another mix for the first part of the song.Ken Scott – From “Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust“, 2012
We were in Abbey Road and John suddenly disappeared and he came back and he said, ‘George (Martin), I’m looking for a radio.’ We all looked at him and said, ‘What do you mean, you’re looking for a radio?’ George Martin said, ‘I’m sure there’s got to be a radio somewhere in the building.’ So, John went off again and he found a radio on the floor above and he put it on short wave, because that was what John wanted. George Martin had to figure out how to get the radio from above down into the studio where they were recording.Alistair Taylor
This idea was put into action on this day, resulting in the creation of seventeen new mono mixes, numbered RM 6 to 22. The live radio feed overdubs were unique to each mono mix. Only RM 10 and RM 22 were complete.
Remix Mono 22, the last one produced, was deemed the best and contained a live feed from the BBC Third Programme’s radio performance of William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy Of King Lear.” This performance had been recorded on August 24, 1967, and featured Mark Dignam as Gloucester, Philip Guard as Edgar, and John Bryning as Oswald in Act IV Scene VI.
The first two minutes of RM 10 did not have the radio overdubs. An edit of RM 10 and RM 22 was then created to form what was known as Remix Mono 23. The edit can be heard at 2’02” of mono pressings. RM 23 was the mono mix released in the UK. However, Capitol Records received a different mix for the US single release, which is thought to be RM 22 or RM 23 without some final edits.
I was asked to do an edit between takes to marry the good ending with a better front half of the song. Now, EMI engineers were not supposed to take a razor blade to the tape because, as explained previously, the studio employed a team of dedicated editors. But when you’re working with The Beatles and they want to hear the first half of one mix and the second half of another, you can’t wait until the next day for the editors to arrive. Even though I was used to banding, this was one of my first real actual edits, so once again I was gripped by fear. As I was rocking the tape backwards and forwards to try and find the edit point, everyone seemed to be talking at once at the top of their voices, and I couldn’t hear a damned thing. At some point I lost it and screamed in a panic, “Please, shut up. I’m trying to do this!” Much to my surprise, everything immediately fell quiet, which might have been even worse because now the spotlight was directed squarely on me. “Can I cut this without spilling any of my own blood on a precious Beatles master?” I wondered. Luckily when I played it, all sounded fine and everyone was pleased, especially me. Dodged yet another bullet.Ken Scott – From “Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust“, 2012
Scott, Ken; Bobby Owsinski. Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust . Alfred Publishing Co – eBooks Account. Kindle Edition.
The mono-mixing work was completed around 1 am, and the team then moved on to work on “Your Mother Should Know” until the end of the session.
“I Am The Walrus” was mixed in stereo on November 6, 1967.
On August 22 and 23, 1967, The Beatles recorded a version of “Your Mother Should Know” at Chappell Recording Studios. On September 16, 1967, they decided to work on a remake of the track. However, the remake was eventually scrapped, and, on this day, they returned to the original takes at Chappell to add more overdubs and finalize the track.
During the session, three reduction mixes of Take 9 were made, labelled Takes 50 to 52. These mixes combined the vocals onto one track and the piano and drums onto another. Overdubs were then added onto Take 52, with John recording an organ part, Paul playing the tambourine, and Ringo adding some snare drums on track four. Paul then laid down his bass part on track three.
Before the session ended at 5 am, a rough mono mix, numbered 20, was created. Interestingly, the tape machine was running at 60½ cycles per second, which made the mix sound much slower upon playback than usual. Further mixing was carried out on October 2 and November 6, 1967.
Last updated on April 30, 2023
The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.
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