"Thrillington" session #3

Thursday, June 17, 1971 • For Percy "Thrills" Thrillington

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Thrillington LP.
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road

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The recording of “Thrillington“, an instrumental version of Paul McCartney’s second solo album, “RAM“, had started on June 15, 1971, and had continued on June 16. This day was the third and last day of recording.

Paul McCartney acted only as a producer during those sessions.

He was there the entire time, fine tuning it, speaking with the musicians, just being on top of it and making sure the feel is right. He was definitely in charge. Everyone was secure that if there were any decisions to be made, he would make them.

Tony Clark – Interview with Matt Hurwitz, from “Good Day Sunshine” fanzine – Issue #78 – Quoted in mcbeatle.de

I don’t think I’ve seen Paul quite so happy, away from the responsibility of making and producing his own music – just having a great, great bunch of musicians playing his music. Paul would talk to the musicians, and be the producer in the box, with me engineering, and it all flowed. Paul was bopping around, and feeling great about his music. I reckon we all did.

Tony Clark – from Facebook (Quote taken from McCartney Legacy Volume One, © Dey Street books, 2022.)

From “Good Day Sunshine” fanzine, issue #78:

[…] The next day, on Thursday, June 17, recording took place, all day, in cavernous Studio One, the same one used on numerous occasions by the Beatles to record large orchestras, such as the one producing the climax at the end of “A Day in the Life”. From Hewson’s personal records, it is not known what was recorded this day, though the horn section (comprised of trumpets, trombones and a tuba) are thusfar unaccounted for. They were either recorded this day or in the afternoon on June 15. [Hewson’s diary also indicates, by the way, another meeting with Dick Rowe on this date at 6 p.m. – delayed from 2:30 by the McCartney session.]

The sessions ran quite smoothly over the three days of recording, with rare exception. [Richard Hewson does remember one session player who became so inebriated that he got in his car at lunchtime and went down Abbey Road and smashed into nine cars! “I don’t know whether it was my arranging and conducting that drove him to it!”] Both Hewson and Clark remember the recordings not only fondly, but, for both, as a highlight of their careers. “The excitement of performance for me was just totally there,” remembers Tony Clark. “When music is like that, everybody works at the same level. Most of my career I spend trying to find ways to make magic moments like that.” Clark and Hewson weren’t the only ones enjoying the recording. Tony adds, “What I do remember is that Paul was extremely happy through the whole of the experience.”

The album opens with a collage of orchestra and Swingle chatter and tuning up, taken from the various sessions. “That bit ends with someone saying ‘In the back office with a bottle of scotch,'” recalls Tony Clark. “That’s Jim Lawless, the percussionist.” “Too Many People” then begins with an acoustic guitar, bass, drums and Lawless’s vibraphone, accompanied by some cellos, saxophones and trombones.

In addition, one hears both trumpets and the Swingle Singers in what, today, sounds like a rather dated effect, but which in 1971 was a pioneering sound. “It’s sort of a watery effect; in fact, we just called it ‘the watery box’,” says Clark, referring to the flanged, phase-shifted sound produced by the device heard throughout the record. [“They got this the day we did the session and used it on everything!,” notes Richard Hewson. “You know engineers.”] […]

From “Good Day Sunshine” fanzine – Issue #78 – Quoted in mcbeatle.de

Following the coda of piano break [on the last track, “Back Seat of My Car”], there is a curious sound – that of some water dripping. Believe it or not, the final signature on Paul McCartney’s first instrumental album was provided by none other than one of Abbey Road’s archaic, leaking toilets. Tony Clark remembers, “I remember coming out from the toilet saying to Paul, ‘It’s amazing – it sounds in tune!’ So, of course, Paul goes in himself, and he has a listen.” It was a very late night, in fact during the lengthy mix session which would follow, and, as late nights tend to affect those under their spell, “You just start to get a bit giggly,” says Clark. He listened, Paul listened and Alan Parsons listened, and before anyone knew it, the fellows from the amp room had a microphone set up and four recordings were made, providing a, well, unique ending to the album – in stereo, no less. “And it’s in tune,” adds Clark.

From “Good Day Sunshine” fanzine – Issue #78 – Quoted in mcbeatle.de

The mixing of the album was done on the following day.

From Twitter – Paul during the orchestral sessions for the ‘Thrillington’ album in New York #ThrowbackThursday #TBT #whoisPercyThrillington

Last updated on May 4, 2022

Songs recorded


Too Many People

Written by Paul McCartney



3 Legs

Written by Paul McCartney



Ram On

Written by Paul McCartney




Smile Away

Written by Paul McCartney





Production staff

Paul McCartney:
Richard Hewson:
Arrangements, Orchestration
Tony Clark:
Recording engineer
Alan Parsons:
Assistant recording engineer

Going further

Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989

With 25 albums of pop music, 5 of classical – a total of around 500 songs – released over the course of more than half a century, Paul McCartney's career, on his own and with Wings, boasts an incredible catalogue that's always striving to free itself from the shadow of The Beatles. The stories behind the songs, demos and studio recordings, unreleased tracks, recording dates, musicians, live performances and tours, covers, events: Music Is Ideas Volume 1 traces McCartney's post-Beatles output from 1970 to 1989 in the form of 346 song sheets, filled with details of the recordings and stories behind the sessions. Accompanied by photos, and drawing on interviews and contemporary reviews, this reference book draws the portrait of a musical craftsman who has elevated popular song to an art-form.

Shop on Amazon

Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium

We owe a lot to Chip Madinger and Mark Easter for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details!

Eight Arms To Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium is the ultimate look at the careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr beyond the Beatles. Every aspect of their professional careers as solo artists is explored, from recording sessions, record releases and tours, to television, film and music videos, including everything in between. From their early film soundtrack work to the officially released retrospectives, all solo efforts by the four men are exhaustively examined.

As the paperback version is out of print, you can buy a PDF version on the authors' website

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Maccazine - Volume 40, Issue 3 - RAM Part 1 - Timeline

This very special RAM special is the first in a series. This is a Timeline for 1970 – 1971 when McCartney started writing and planning RAM in the summer of 1970 and ending with the release of the first Wings album WILD LIFE in December 1971. [...] One thing I noted when exploring the material inside the deluxe RAM remaster is that the book contains many mistakes. A couple of dates are completely inaccurate and the story is far from complete. For this reason, I started to compile a Timeline for the 1970/1971 period filling the gaps and correcting the mistakes. The result is this Maccazine special. As the Timeline was way too long for one special, we decided to do a double issue (issue 3, 2012 and issue 1, 2013).

Maccazine - Volume 47, Issue 1 - The birth of Wings

"Maccazine is a hard copy magazine (a bound paperback) about Paul McCartney. It is published twice a year. Due to the fact that the Internet has taken over the world and the fact that the latest Paul McCartney news is to be found on hundreds of websites, we have decided to focus on creating an informative paper magazine about Paul McCartney."

"In this issue we take you back to the early days of Paul McCartney’s solo career when he decided to form a new group. With Wings he proved there was life after The Beatles. This Maccazine features a detailed timeline of ‘the birth’ of the band with interesting entries including many new facts and unpublished photos. Follow-up timelines will be published in the upcoming years."


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