- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Revolver (UK Mono) LP.
- EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road
More from year 1966
Some songs from this session appear on:
Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.
This was the debut Beatles session for 18-years old Richard Lush, as the second engineer.
I was pretty nervous. I’d worked with Cliff and the Shadows and they were very easy going but I knew that Beatles sessions were private. One was rarely allowed to open the door and peek in, and I heard that they tppl a while to accept new people. It certainly took a while before they knew me as Richard. Until then it was ‘Who is that boy sitting in the corner hearing all of our music?’ But everything worked out in the end.Richard Lush – From The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn, 2004
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. […] 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”.
From 8 pm to 2:30 am, The Beatles recorded two takes of “Paperback Writer“, which would be released as the A-side of their next single. Paul McCartney and George Harrison played electric guitars while John Lennon played the tambourine and Ringo Starr was on drums. Take 2 was considered to be the best and formed the basic track of the released version.
Well, what happened was that we fell in love all over again with my Epiphone Casino, which I played on a lot of Beatles records – the ‘Paperback Writer’ riff, the solo on ‘Taxman,’ and so on. It always feeds back nicely.Paul McCartney – Interview for Guitar Player, November 2005
Paul’s bass would only be recorded on the following day, but he gave engineer Geoff Emerick a challenge on this day, to make his bass sound like a “deep Motown bass sound“:
One afternoon, Paul strolled into the studio, marched straight over to the piano, and confidently proclaimed, “Gather round, lads, and have a listen to our next single.”
John gave Paul a sideways glance of disapproval — he never liked losing — but nevertheless joined Ringo and the two Georges for the private concert. Paul pounded out a catchy melody, instantly hummable, filled with memorable hooks. I couldn’t make out the lyric entirely, but it seemed to involve book writing. Each time he would come to the chorus, Paul would stop playing and gesture to John and George Harrison, pointing out the high harmony part he planned on assigning each. By the time he finished the first run-through, it was obvious to everyone in the room that this was an instant hit. The song was “Paperback Writer,” and it would indeed top the charts when it was released just a few weeks later.
But even before he got down to the brass tacks of teaching the others their parts, Paul turned to me. “Geoff,” he began, “I need you to put your thinking cap on. This song is really calling out for that deep Motown bass sound we’ve been talking about, so I want you to pull out all the stops this time. All right, then?”
I nodded an affirmative. Paul had long been complaining that the bass on Beatles records wasn’t as loud or as full as the bass on the American records he so loved. He and I would often get together in the mastering room to listen intently to the low end of some new import he had gotten from the States, most often a Motown track. Even though we had DI (Direct Inject) boxes available, I rarely used them to record Paul’s bass — I still don’t, as a matter of fact. Instead, I followed the standard EMI directive of placing a microphone in front of his bass amplifier. The bass sounds we were getting were decent — partly because Paul had switched from his signature Hofner violin “Beatle” bass to a beefier Rickenbacker — but still not as good as what we were hearing on those American records.
Fortunately, as Paul and John turned to George Harrison and began showing him the chords to “Paperback Writer,” inspiration struck. It occurred to me that since microphones are in fact simply loudspeakers wired in reverse (in technical terms, both are transducers that convert sound waves to electrical signals, and vice versa), why not try using a loudspeaker as a microphone? Logically, it seemed that whatever can push bass signal out can also take it in — and that a large loudspeaker should be able to respond to low frequencies better than a small microphone. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
I broached my plan, gingerly, to Phil McDonald. His response was somewhat predictable: “You’re daft; you’ve completely gone around the twist.” Ignoring him, I took a walk down the hall and talked it over with Ken Townsend, our maintenance engineer. He thought my idea had some merit.
“Sounds plausible,” he said. “Let’s wire a speaker up that way and try it.” Over the next few hours, while the boys rehearsed with George Martin, Ken and I conducted a few experiments. To my delight, the idea of using a speaker as a microphone seemed to work pretty well. Even though it didn’t deliver a lot of signal and was kind of muffled, I was able to achieve a good bass sound by placing it up against the grille of a bass amplifier, speaker to speaker, and then routing the signal through a complicated setup of compressors and filters—including one huge experimental unit that I secretly borrowed from the office of Mr. Cook, the manager of the maintenance department.
With renewed confidence, I returned to the studio to try it out for real. […]Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006
The recording of “Paperback Writer” would continue on the following day, April 14, 1966.
Last updated on October 22, 2023
Musicians on "Paperback Writer"
Musicians on "Love You To"
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.