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It was 40 years ago today...


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Gotta tell you a story...


I was one of the first people in the US to hear it. Our band was playing a club called the Purple Owl in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Capitol used to have a pressing plant. The father of one of the guys who worked at the plant had smuggled out a copy that day, and after the gig, this kid asked us if we wanted to hear the new Beatles album. Remember in those days, there were no internet leaks, no advance copies...it was unreleased, and for all practical purposes, unheard.


So we partook in some of the plant-like substances common in that era, sat down, turned down the lights, and turned up the stereo.


To say we were blown away would be a major, major understatement!!

 

 

 

 

Great story! Thanks for sharing that Craig. :phil:

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I'd love to see some more discussion about some of the recording techniques for Sgt Pepper. :) The alarm clock cue in ADITL, the massively compressed pianos at the end (the original idea was for several people to hum the last chord in harmony...), the sped up / varispeeded vocals on When I'm 64, etc...

 

Some of the "Paul Is Dead" stuff / "clues" might be interesting to discuss too. "Wednesday morning at five o'clock" (the supposed time of the car accident that Paul supposedly died in - George is pointing at that line on the back cover), the open hand over Paul's head on the front cover (supposedly a sign of death in some culture or another), the fact that the front cover looks like a bunch of people viewing a grave site, complete with "left handed bass" flower arrangement, etc. etc.

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She's Leaving Home:

The day before McCartney wanted to work on the string arrangement, he learned that George Martin was not available to do the score. He contacted Mike Leander, who did it in Martin's place. It was the first time a Beatle song was not arranged by Martin. Martin was hurt by McCartney's actions, but he produced the song and conducted the string section. The harp was played by Sheila Bromberg, the first female musician to appear on a Beatles record.

 

Good Morning Good Morning:

The track was recorded on February 8, 1967, with overdubs on February 16 (bass and vocals), March 13 (brass section), March 28 (backing vocals and guitar solo), and March 29 (animal noises). The guitar solo was played by Paul McCartney on a Fender Esquire.

 

At Lennon's request, George Martin brought in Sounds Incorporated to play the brass section with their signature saxophone sound.

 

Lennon asked engineer Geoff Emerick to arrange the animal noises heard at the end of the song so that the animal was capable of devouring or frightening the animal that came before it.

 

This song features double-bass drum playing by Ringo Starr.

 

The final sound effect of a chicken clucking was so placed that it transforms into the guitar on the following track "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)".

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The final sound effect of a chicken clucking was so placed that it transforms into the guitar on the following track "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)".

 

And excellent, and quite famous edit to be sure - but I've always been equally impressed with the first two sound effects - the cat morphing into the dog bark. :)

 

BTW, a few seconds after that famous chicken -> guitar, and right as Paul is doing the count-in for SPLHCB (Reprise) , John says something. Does anyone know what it is? :)

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BTW, a few seconds after that famous chicken -> guitar, and right as Paul is doing the count-in for SPLHCB (Reprise) , John says something. Does anyone know what it is?
:)

 

Between 3 and 4, Lennon adds the word "Bye" ! :wave:

 

With a Little Help from My Friends was written specifically as Ringo's track for the album. It was briefly called Bad Finger Boogie, later the inspiration for the band Badfinger.

 

Starr insisted on changing the first line which originally was "What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you throw ripe tomatoes at me?" He changed the lyric so that fans would not throw tomatoes at him should he perform it live. (In the early days, after George made a passing comment that he liked jelly babies, the group was pelted with them at all of their live performances).

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Lovely Rita:

The term "meter-maid," American slang for a female traffic officer, was largely unknown in the UK prior to the song's release.

 

The unusual noises during the song after the lines "and the bag across her shoulder made her look a little like a military man" were John, Paul, and George playing the comb-and-paper.

 

The song figures in to the "Paul is Dead" hoax apparently because McCartney was distracted by her while driving, which led to the car crash that ended his life.

 

smlovely.jpg

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I'd love to see some more discussion about some of the recording techniques for Sgt Pepper.
:)
The alarm clock cue in ADITL, the massively compressed pianos at the end (the original idea was for several people to hum the last chord in harmony...), the sped up / varispeeded vocals on When I'm 64, etc...

 

I went through the whole album track by track with my students last week, with the aid of Mark Lewisohn's excellent "The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions", and the indispensible "Revolution in the Head" by Ian McDonald. They're 18-22 years old, and most of them are familiar with the album, and the fact that the Beatles were 'pretty good song writers' (quote!), but this really blew them away, finding out about the very limited technology at Abbey Road at the time, and what they were able to come up with through the use of varispeed etc (Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds! The most varispeeded track on the album). I played them the stereo mix on vinyl, and they couldn't believe the textures and depth, and couldn't get their heads around how it was 4-track with all the bounces etc. For me, it's still one of the best sounding albums ever.

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I'm fairly new to computer based recording, and love what can be done with it. However I like a hybrid studio so I'll keep my Fostex 4 track and Otari 2 track around to be able to do things like varispeed and flipping tape for reversed effects even if done only once in awhile.

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sync an ADAT up to a DAW for varispeed.

 

 

That's exactly how I get around the problem too Alpha. I have an old Blackface that I use only for that purpose. But it would still be nice to have an internal varispeed control in software to control the sample rate. Some SIAB's, like the Yamaha AW4416 do have that feature - but it's rare in software DAW programs.

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Sorry to dredge up this threat, Phil, but I got to interview Emerick and wrote a story and did a mini-audio-documentary on the album. (I am an editor at the St. Petersburg Times). You can find it here:

 

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/webspecials07/special_reports/sgt-pepper/

 

You can hear the documentary at the "Audio Interview" link, read the story at "The Spark of Genius" and find some other fun things on other links.

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