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One of my favorite albums just turned 50...


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Not even a brief flash of "Epiphone Casino" or "Gibson SG" enters your mind when you hear something from Revolver? :)

 

From time to time I think about how lucky we are that those great songs were recorded so well but, for the most part, I just think about how great the songs are.

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The freaky part is the engineers were essentially classical music engineers prior to recording them. Getting balances in an orchestra and not having tympani over power some lone oboe player took years to refine. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them weren't expert at live radio broadcasting or burning live to a record or film before working with tape either.

 

You can hear that layer of refined elegance in the Beatles recordings. Much of it influenced their musical arrangements too. There were many recording artists that included classical instruments. Buddy Holly comes to mind with allot of his later recordings including violins as backup, but they were used differently. They were written in to enhance the pop tunes. The Beatles incorporated classical instruments much differently then others before them.

 

Beginning with using a Harmonica in Love me Do, they used a number of unique instruments in pop music. String octet in Eleanor Rigby, Sitar in Norwegian Wood, Moog Synth in Here comes the Sun, a full choir in Long and Winding Road, Mellotron in Bungalow Bill, Tape loops and snippets like in the pipe organs in Benefit of Mr. Kite, Sax in Lady Madonna, Electric Harpsicord in Because, Tambura in Getting Better, Timpani and Swarmandal in Strawberry Fields, Harmonium in We can work it out. Of course they did use keyboards and other traditional instruments as well.

 

I don't think the Beatles would have been as big a success as they were, without the use of these other voices used in unique ways. I think if thay had stuck with only the Guitar bass drums and vocals people would have tired of them much sooner. As it is many bands took those unique instrumentals and built entire bands around them. ELO with the heavy Cello content, ELP with the heavy Synth, Procol Harum with the Full Orchestra backup, Tape loops were used by everyone from Hendrix to Zappa and have made a big comeback with modern digital loopers.

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The freaky part is the engineers were essentially classical music engineers prior to recording them. Getting balances in an orchestra and not having tympani over power some lone oboe player took years to refine.

 

They did a lot more than just orchestral recordings at Abbey Road prior to June 6 1962 (the date of the first Beatles session at EMI). EMI did a bit of everything, including lots of jazz and pop... and even comedy - which is what Parlophone was primarily known for prior to signing the Beatles.

 

 

You can hear that layer of refined elegance in the Beatles recordings.

 

 

EMI certainly had very high standards - both in terms of the gear and their staff.

 

 

Much of it influenced their musical arrangements too. There were many recording artists that included classical instruments. Buddy Holly comes to mind with allot of his later recordings including violins as backup, but they were used differently. They were written in to enhance the pop tunes. The Beatles incorporated classical instruments much differently then others before them.

 

Beginning with using a Harmonica in Love me Do, they used a number of unique instruments in pop music. String octet in Eleanor Rigby, Sitar in Norwegian Wood, Moog Synth in Here comes the Sun, a full choir in Long and Winding Road, Mellotron in Bungalow Bill, Tape loops and snippets like in the pipe organs in Benefit of Mr. Kite, Sax in Lady Madonna, Electric Harpsicord in Because, Tambura in Getting Better, Timpani and Swarmandal in Strawberry Fields, Harmonium in We can work it out. Of course they did use keyboards and other traditional instruments as well.

 

I don't think the Beatles would have been as big a success as they were, without the use of these other voices used in unique ways.

 

The musical diversity and instrumental variety and unique application in terms of arrangements and unique sounds mainly came down to two things - the classical background and experience of their producer (Sir George Martin) and the band's insatiable desire for "new sounds." The staff at Abby Road had little to do with it other than waxing whatever tracks they asked for, although they certainly were responsible for some of the technical innovations that addressed some of their requests, such as Ken Townsend's ADT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This article was on my phone's Flipboard app yesterday. It made the point that Rubber Soul was the "pot" album, and then Revolver was the "LSD" album. Well maybe the 1st LSD album.

 

I found it very interesting.

 

How LSD Opened the Door To Revolver

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/beatles-revolver-how-lsd-opened-the-door-to-a-masterpiece-w436062

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I think Geoff Emerick was recruited in order to NOT have 'old guys' only at the studio.

 

Revolver has several songs that relate to the band's exploration of psychedelics. One of my all time favorites "She Said, She Said" is supposedly about dropping acid at Peter Fonda's house. I only dropped with Bridget, so I couldn't say .... :p

 

Phil, enormous thanks for the info about the compressors. Lately I've been doing a lot of recording and as I listen back to certain Beatles albums (White Album particularly) I'm struck at how uniform the levels are, and yet the dynamics come across incredibly well. I thought "damn, that's some fine compressing and EQing right there."

 

Some guessing on my part, please correct where you know better:

- the EQing was simply George Martin being very, very good at EQing. Nothing steps on anything in the mix, unless it's meant to do so. Sure, "those were simpler times," but those recordings sound .... great. Would love to see a spectrum chart of, say, "Paperback Writer" vs. "Glad All Over."

- ... and compression. "Rocky Raccoon" fits in with "Revolution" fits in with "Guitar Gently Weeps." It really shouldn't flow as well as it does, but it does. In the 90's there was a lot of back and forth about "the volume wars" and excessive compression, but the Beatles sure didn't make a lot of compression sound like a bad thing to my ears. Was there a ton of multi-banding going on?

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I think Geoff Emerick was recruited in order to NOT have 'old guys' only at the studio.

 

Possibly, but I'm not convinced. :)

 

They had a good working relationship with Norman Smith. Smith was a bit older, but he was a very good engineer, and they had plenty of success with him. When Norman went independent, he was no longer an EMI employee, and they weren't going to have him working as an engineer anymore - he wanted to produce anyway, which is what led to the move on his part.

 

There were plenty of other balance engineers (first engineers) at EMI at the time who could have taken over, but Geoff was ready to be moved up to Balance Engineer at that time, and had already amassed a ton of experience as a ME and Tape Op, including lots of Beatles sessions. IMHO, one of the things that probably worked in his favor in terms of getting the Beatles gig as a Balance Engineer wasn't so much his youth (although I'm sure that didn't hurt), but his abilities, willingness to experiment and try new things, and the fact that they were already familiar and comfortable working with Geoff. He was less of an outsider than what they may have had bringing in someone entirely new.

 

 

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I'm sure that Emerick immediately let his talents be known; I was going more by something I think I read once (actually, an interview with Geoff, I think) where he felt he was first brought on at EMI because they wanted new blood?

 

Anyhow, it's truly a pleasure getting so much detail and info. Much appreciated.

 

Talk to me about compression the White Album. I'm utterly fascinated with it (and no, I don't mean during mastering, although that ain't shabby either).

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From what I understand, Geoff Emerick walked out during the White Album project. Perhaps whoever they brought in to replace him was the person who pulled it all together.

 

The stakes must have been pretty high for EMI on all The Beatles projects so I'm sure they wanted to get it right - whatever it took.

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From what I understand' date=' Geoff Emerick walked out during the White Album project.[/quote']

 

Apparently he got tired of the arguments.

 

Perhaps whoever they brought in to replace him was the person who pulled it all together.

 

Ken Scott. Another legend.

 

The stakes must have been pretty high for EMI on all The Beatles projects so I'm sure they wanted to get it right - whatever it took.

 

By that point they could pretty much do whatever they wanted and spend as much time as they wanted in the studio as long as they kept putting out new recordings, and those new recordings kept selling like they did.

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The Beatles...they were alrightsmiley-wink...I caught on with them with Rubber Soul. I have had a soft spot for that album since, along with the white album, Revolver, Sgt Pep and so on. There are pretty much good songs on every one of their albums...a clunker cut here or there but not many.

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Wow...I saw the thread title, and thought to myself 'hmmm...the best album of 1966...had to be Revolver...' and Bingo!

Still one of my faves as well...outstanding songwriting, brilliantly engineered, letter perfect performances.

Considering the album competition that year, like Blonde on Blonde, Pet Sounds, Parsely/Sage and Freakout!....arguably the best damn year of rock releases...singles galore too...Rascals, Kinks, Stones, Standells, Lovin' Spoonful, Percy Sledge, Mamas and Papas, Donovan, the Byrds, the Monkees...a great time to be alive!

 

Stop! Yer killin' me! My kingdom for a Wayback Machine!

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The Beatles...they were alrightsmiley-wink...I caught on with them with Rubber Soul. I have had a soft spot for that album since' date=' along with the white album, Revolver, Sgt Pep and so on. There are pretty much good songs on every one of their albums...a clunker cut here or there but not many.[/quote']

 

Some people, and I'm not saying you, think of 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' and 'Octopus's Garden' as clunkers - perhaps because of the subject matter of the lyrics - but the background vocals and guitar parts are superb on both tracks.

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Some people, and I'm not saying you, think of 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' and 'Octopus's Garden' as clunkers - perhaps because of the subject matter of the lyrics - but the background vocals and guitar parts are superb on both tracks.

 

I've never heard of anyone in the band dissing Octopus's Garden, but by all accounts the rest of the band hated Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

 

To me though, neither one would qualify as one of the two worst Beatles songs... I'd probably give the nod to Mr. Moonlight and maybe You Know My Name (Look Up The Number).

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I've never heard of anyone in the band dissing Octopus's Garden, but by all accounts the rest of the band hated Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

 

To me though, neither one would qualify as one of the two worst Beatles songs... I'd probably give the nod to Mr. Moonlight and maybe You Know My Name (Look Up The Number).

 

'You Know My Name' was a game changer for me. I was very surprised when I heard it the first time but it inspired me to start playing around with weird stuff when I was recording.

 

I remember hearing George Harrison say 'we had to wade through twenty maxwell's silver hammers before we would get to one of mine' but I believe that, at that time, he had had enough of McCartney being 'bitchy' and it wasn't so much about the song itself.

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'You Know My Name' was a game changer for me. I was very surprised when I heard it the first time but it inspired me to start playing around with weird stuff when I was recording.

 

For me, it was Revolver that opened me up to a lot of the groundbreaking recording techniques and approaches, including the tape loops, sound manipulation and effects. I just never "got the joke" of YKMN, LUTN, but YMMV.

 

 

I remember hearing George Harrison say 'we had to wade through twenty maxwell's silver hammers before we would get to one of mine' but I believe that, at that time, he had had enough of McCartney being 'bitchy' and it wasn't so much about the song itself.

 

Not only was George annoyed with it, John was on record as not digging it either, calling it something "for the grannies to dig" or something along those lines.

 

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/ne...-john-19700121

 

I also remember one or the other of them complaining about doing take after take of MSH when they were recording it.

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...

 

I also remember one or the other of them complaining about doing take after take of MSH when they were recording it.

 

Apparantly 'Ob La Di Ob La Da' was a bone of contention as well. I think they, along with 'Hello Goodbye' are 'songs abot nothing' but they are great records and I'm glad McCartney did what he had to do to get there (although I didn't have to work with the guy).

 

I heard that the energetic piano intro to Ob La Di was Lennon reacting to the idea of needing to do yet another take - the song does have a great groove with the bass line implying a shift of the one to beat three of the measure.

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Apparantly 'Ob La Di Ob La Da' was a bone of contention as well. I think they, along with 'Hello Goodbye' are 'songs abot nothing' but they are great records and I'm glad McCartney did what he had to do to get there (although I didn't have to work with the guy).

 

I heard that the energetic piano intro to Ob La Di was Lennon reacting to the idea of needing to do yet another take - the song does have a great groove with the bass line implying a shift of the one to beat three of the measure.

 

And I'm glad they kept all those songs in. The White Album is one of the most entertaining musical merry-go-rounds of all time.

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