- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Revolver (UK Mono) LP.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
More from year 1966
Some songs from this session appear on:
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“Love You To” was the third track the Beatles recorded for Revolver, after “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Got to Get You into My Life“. Rodriguez comments that “Love You To” “[made] explicit the Indian influence implicit throughout the entire album”, as songs such as “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Got to Get You into My Life”, together with the non-album single tracks “Paperback Writer” and “Rain“, all incorporate drone sounds or otherwise display the limited harmonic movement that typifies the genre. In a 1997 interview, Harrison said that the song’s inclusion reflected the band’s willingness to experiment during this period, adding: “We were listening to all sorts of things, Stockhausen, avant-garde music, whatever, and most of it made its way onto our records.”
The basic track for “Love You To” was taped in London at EMI Studios (now Abbey Road Studios) on 11 April 1966. According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, Harrison initially sang and played acoustic guitar, accompanied by Paul McCartney on backing vocals. By the end of the first session that day, three takes of the song had been made, with Harrison introducing his sitar on the last of these takes. Work resumed at 8 pm, with the participation of Anil Bhagwat, a tabla player that Harrison had sourced through Patricia Angadi. Other outside contributors, also from the AMC, included musicians on tambura and sitar.
According to Inglis, “Love You To” is “defined” by the interplay between sitar and tabla. Bhagwat later recalled of his involvement: “George told me what he wanted and I tuned the tabla with him. He suggested I play something in the Ravi Shankar style, 16-beats, though he agreed that I should improvise. Indian music is all improvisation.” After rehearsing the song together many times, Harrison and Bhagwat recorded the sitar and tabla parts onto the vocal and guitar performance taped earlier that day.
With take 6 selected as the best performance, a reduction mix was carried out on 13 April, freeing up space for more overdubs on the four-track tape. Harrison added another vocal part onto what was now referred to as take 7, and Ringo Starr played tambourine. McCartney contributed a high harmony vocal over the words “They’ll fill you in with all their sins, you’ll see”, but this part was omitted from the final mix. Harrison also overdubbed fuzz-tone electric guitar, controlling the output via a volume pedal. Producer Tony Visconti has marvelled at the guitar sounds the Beatles introduced on Revolver, particularly Harrison’s part on “Love You To”, which he says “sounds like a chainsaw cutting down a tree in Vermont”.
Credit for the main sitar part on “Love You To” has traditionally been the subject of debate among commentators. While MacDonald says that, rather than Harrison, it was the sitarist from the AMC who played this part, Rodriguez writes that “others point to [Harrison’s] single-minded diligence in mastering the instrument, as well as his study through private lessons, proximity to accomplished musicians, and close listening to pertinent records.” In his official history of the Beatles’ recording career, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Lewisohn states: “George played the sitar but an outside musician, Anil Bhagwat, was recruited to play the tabla.” Musicologist Walter Everett also identifies Harrison as the main sitar player on the recording, as does Peter Lavezzoli, author of The Dawn of Indian Music in the West. Leng comments that, as on “Norwegian Wood”, Harrison “is still playing the sitar like a guitar player [on the recording], using blues and rock ‘n’ roll bends rather than the intensely intricate Indian equivalents”. Speaking to author Steve Turner, Bhagwat has dismissed the idea that the sitarist was not Harrison, saying: “I can tell you here and now – 100 percent it was George on sitar throughout.”
Final mixing for the song took place on 21 June as the Beatles rushed to complete Revolver before beginning the first leg of their 1966 world tour. Harrison discussed “Love You To” with Shankar when the two musicians met that month, at a social event hosted by the Angadi family. Although he was unaware of the band’s popularity and had yet to hear “Norwegian Wood”, Shankar was impressed with Harrison’s humility as the guitarist downplayed his sitar recordings with the Beatles as merely “experiments”. Soon after this meeting, Shankar gave Harrison his first sitar lesson at Kinfauns, his and Boyd’s home in Surrey, and later, with tablist Alla Rakha, performed a private recital there for Harrison, Lennon and Starr. Harrison subsequently recalled of his first lesson with Shankar: “I felt I wanted to walk out of my home that day and take a one-way ticket to Calcutta. I would even have left Pattie behind in that moment.”
A chap called [Ayana] Angadi called me and asked if I was free that evening to work with George … he didn’t say it was Harrison. It was only when a Rolls-Royce came to pick me up that I realised I’d be playing on a Beatles session. When I arrived at Abbey Road there were girls everywhere with Thermos flasks, cakes, sandwiches, waiting for the Beatles to come out.Anil Bhagwat, 1988 – From Mark Lewisohn
Last updated on September 16, 2022
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 second book of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)-nominated series, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 2: Help! through Revolver (1965-1966)" follows the evolution of the band from the end of Beatlemania with "Help!" through the introspection of "Rubber Soul" up to the sonic revolution of "Revolver". 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.