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Beatles Interview


George: Paul was always on the lookout for new sounds and experimenting at home with a Brenell recorder, he discovered that he could record on a constant loop of tape until it was literally saturated with sound. I selected a number of these tapes and used them, sometimes at a different speed and pitch, in a new song John had written. We started with a terrific rhythm track recorded in only three takes, with a constant tamboura drone and that marvellous and hypnotic drum beat from Ringo, "Tomorrow Never Knows", was born.

Later, while Sgt. Pepper was under way, George came up with an interesting and distinctive song, "Within You Without You", heavily influenced by his love of all things Indian. Working with George on this recording was fascinating. His sense of complicated rhythms and tonalities earned my respect, and the song was issued as the first track on the second side of Sgt. Pepper. Giles suggested that we combine these two tracks together in such a brilliant way.

Giles: This was one of the first things I tried when we were making the initial demos for the show. I was really quite scared about offending all who were involved and at one stage we weren't even going to play it anyone. The fact that it was accepted showed how open-minded everyone was in the approach to the music we were creating.


George: This song has the most extraordinary lyrics, with John doing his utmost to build a psychedelic vision rivalling creations by Lewis Carroll and Salvador Dali. It all began with his son Julian coming home from school with a picture of his classmate, Lucy. She was kind of floating in mid-air with little stars that he had drawn around her. Such innocence! The song came together quickly, and the opening bars are simple, but magic.

Giles: As soon as the LOVE show director, showed me his ideas on creating a starry sky by using LED effects I set out on trying to introduce the song by having shimmering stars appear individually with sound. By slicing the original keyboard and using vari-speed we managed to get the effect I was looking for.


George: I am glad we were able to use Ringo's "Octopus's Garden" in the show. In many ways it's timeless, a children's song, easy on the ear and perfect for the LOVE show director's imaginative undersea scene, with an unexpected beginning.

Giles: I thought it would be great to start the song with Ringo on his own. I first tried to combine his vocal with the end strings from "Glass Onion" and it sounded creepy. Then I tried the strings from "Goodnight" - they had always interested me because they're in stereo. My dad came in and pointed out if I had doubled up the strings and played the verse twice the vocal would work better, and as usual he was right, and Ringo sounds great.


George: Considering that Paul only played guitar when I first knew him, his piano work with that rolling boogie piano driving this along like a powerhouse had become startlingly good. In the backing we tried using Kazoos, but the old comb and paper did just as good a job.

Giles: I wanted to get the riff from "Hey Bulldog" in the show somewhere and it works great as a middle section to "Lady Madonna". It took a while to get the track to sit right, Billy Preston's organ solo from "I Want You(She's So Heavy)" provides the glue between the two and Eric Clapton's guitar solo from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" replaces the sax solo.


George: A brilliant composition with an unusual metre relying heavily on George's great guitar work, very different to "The Inner Light", which was basically recorded in Bombay during the time that George was recording music for his "Wonderwall" film and album. George had used a host of Indian virtuoso players with weird and wonderful instruments I did not even know existed. Once back in England he added his voice and we overdubbed vocals with John and Paul.

Giles: It's strange that although George brought a huge Indian influence to the sound of The Beatles, some of his most famous songs have no Indian instruments on them. The tabla and delrouba from "Within You Without You" made a perfect introduction to George's guitar and we used the chorus vocals from the song to set the scene. "Here Comes the Sun" is a great song about enlightenment; it made complete sense then to finish with "The Inner Light".


George: "Come Together" is such a simple song but it stands out because of the sheer brilliance of the performers. Paul's bass riff makes a fantastic foundation for Ringo's imaginative drumming, and John's vocal with heavy tape echo has a marvelous effect when he claps his hands and hisses into the microphone. George's guitar is equally distinctive, and altogether I believe this is one of the Beatles' greatest tracks. Combined with "Dear Prudence" is Paul's vocal piece from the end of "Cry Baby Cry" that creates a very reflective mood.

Giles: This for me is the Beatles playing live at their economical and inspirational best. There's nothing that can be added to the song as all the parts are so well constructed and yet the song is so sparse. 'Dear Prudence' was used to end the song without fading it and I loved the way the vocals and Ringo's mad drumming add a climax to the end of "Come Together". Dominic Champagne, the shows director, had wanted something disturbing to bring in "Revolution" and I thought this ending sounded from another world. The strings from "Eleanor Rigby" and the climax from "A Day In The Life" provided an edge that isn't on the original.


George: Hard rock recordings do not come much stronger than this one. The distortion of the guitars led to many complaints from the more conservative of listeners at the time and it did in fact give quite a few technical problems when it came to cutting the masters for the vinyl single of the day. Like many of John's songs its message is very clear and, for its time, pretty revolutionary!

Giles: The guitar sound on "Revolution" rips your head off, even today it defines the word 'distortion', it's amazing to think that it was recorded nearly forty years ago." 


George: Miraculously recorded and mixed in two days at a time of tension among the Beatles when a frustrated Ringo had temporarily walked out. Paul, George and John tried to work without him and started to record "Back In The U.S.S.R.", with Paul playing drums. Ringo returned to find they had in fact managed a track without him, but they were so delighted he was back that they showered him with flowers. Nevertheless it is one of the very few tracks without Ringo's terrific drumming.

Giles: Like "Revolution" this bursts out from the multi-track tapes with such energy that there's nothing much that we could do with it either.


George: Most people remember the heavy version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" but an earlier version, almost a demo, was recorded at Abbey Road and discarded until we issued the Anthology albums. I was asked to write a string score to make that early take sound more like an issued master. I was aware of such a responsibility, but thankfully Olivia and everyone approved of the result. "Yesterday" was the first score I had written for a Beatle song way back in 1965 and this score forty one years later is the last. It wraps up an incredible period of my life with those four amazing men who changed the world.

Giles: The LOVE show director and Olivia had decided that take one, an acoustic version, of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" should be used for the show and asked what we could do with it. The vocal performance on the take is so tender, so the only thing I could think of was for my dad to do a string arrangement. I was surprised to find that he was apprehensive about doing it, there's no one in the world better at this kind of thing, and even after all this time he still arranges with the same vitality and empathy that has made his work legendary.


George: John as usual, took his inspiration from odd sources, in this case newspaper cuttings, but he needed a middle section and asked Paul if he had anything. Paul had something, but it wasn't a fit. Realising that such different tempos and styles needed to be separated, Paul suggested a 24 bar section between them which could be filled in later. I had no clue what it would be filled with, until they told me they wanted a symphony orchestra.

I think Paul came up with the idea of a great ascending crescendo, but I needed to do some orchestral organisation if it was to be effective. We all know the result. It was terrific, awe-inspiring and mind boggling to all who heard it for the first time, although some thought it to be subversive and even the dear old BBC banned the track on the grounds that it promoted drug use." 

Giles: Even before we approached this I knew there was nothing we could add to it. It really is a masterpiece. Then Allan Rouse, our project co-ordinator at Abbey Road Studios, brought the early orchestral takes up from the vault. This meant that we could make the crescendo and the last piano chord at the end even bigger.


George: The Beatles in their time wrote and recorded quite a few anthems and "Hey Jude" is a supreme example. I remember having a little rebellion in the orchestra I had booked for the overdub. After the musicians had finished playing their parts I asked them to sing along with the chant and to clap as we did. Cheeky, I know, but not everyone was amused. One violinist remonstrated quite forcibly, saying he was not employed as a session singer and left. I asked if anyone else wanted to join him and bless them, they all stayed and received overtime pay as a result.

Giles: The biggest challenge we faced with "Hey Jude" was finding a way of ending it. I'd found a great bass line that Paul played at the end of the song and put it in the middle, but the ending is so well known that it took quite some time to find the perfect match…. 


George: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" is a rousing and upbeat shorter version of the original song specifically designed to wrap up the imaginary performance of the Sgt. Pepper album. It is ideal for a link into the final song. Our original recording was a quick affair, taped from seven in the evening of April Fool's Day 1967 right through to six the following morning. 

Giles: …..and it was sheer luck that "Sgt. Pepper Reprise" was in the right key so we could link the two together.


George: The Sgt. Pepper album was released in June 1967 to world acclaim, and in no time we were all given an incredible task. The Beatles were selected to represent Great Britain in a world wide television hook-up that was to be broadcast live. It happened very quickly, and the week of the event was for me one I will never forget. John's "All You Need Is Love" was an inspiration and I had the normal job of arranging and producing it. One week before the show my father was taken to hospital. I visited him every day, and he seemed to be recovering well, so much so that I rang my sister who was in Italy and told her not to break up her holiday. But early on Tuesday morning I walked in to the hospital as usual with a bunch of flowers and I was stopped by the Ward Sister who drew me aside and told me my father had died just before dawn.

I was shattered, devastated. Perhaps the work on "All You Need Is Love" was my lifeline. I pitch forked myself into all the things I had to do, which was a mercy for me. When it came to the actual television transmission we had TV cameras focusing on us in the control room as well as the studio. With seconds to go before being on air I had a panic call from the TV director in his BBC van outside saying he had lost contact with his crew in the studio and could I relay his instructions?

I laughed aloud at the real unimportance of it all. If you are going to fall flat on your face you might as well do it in front of 200 million people! It was the end of an era and it has now become the end of our show. We have come full circle.

Giles: I spent a long time looking for The Beatles signing off and saying goodbye for the very end of the show. But it just so happened that at the end of most of their gigs and radio shows they would either say a polite 'thanks' or bow and go straight off. So what you hear over the final chords of "Goodnight" is taken from a Christmas record recorded in 1965.

© 2006 Apple Corps Ltd

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