Recording: Oh! Darling, Octopus’s Garden

Studios Two and Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Phil McDonald

Paul McCartney had first recorded a lead vocal take for Oh! Darling on 26 April 1969. On this day, however, he arrived early at EMI Studios for the first of four new attempts at perfecting the part.

Perhaps my main memory of the Abbey Road sessions is of Paul coming into studio three at two o’clock or 2.30 each afternoon, on his own, to do the vocal on Oh! Darling. That was a feature of the Abbey Road sessions: you very rarely saw all four Beatles together. It was either John or Paul or George working on their various things, perhaps only getting together to hear something back. But Paul came in several days running to do the lead vocal on Oh! Darling. He’d come in, sing it and say ‘No, that’s not it, I’ll try it again tomorrow’. He only tried it once per day, I suppose he wanted to capture a certain rawness which could only be done once before the voice changed. I remember him saying ‘five years ago I could have done this in a flash’, referring, I suppose, to the days of Long Tall Sally and Kansas City.
Alan Parsons
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

McCartney added his vocals to take 16 on this day. For subsequent attempts on 18, 22 and 23 July, however, the overdubs were added to take 26.

Studio Three was booked from 2.30-6.30pm for the overdub, although not all that time was needed. The main bulk of The Beatles’ work on this day took place in Studio Two from 6.30-11.15pm, on Ringo Starr‘s song Octopus’s Garden.

On this day McCartney added a second piano track, containing mostly bass notes. He and George Harrison then recorded backing vocals during the guitar solo section. These were heavily limited and compressed by the studio engineers, giving an underwater effect.

Starr also contributed to the session, by blowing bubbles through a straw into a glass of water. The microphone was positioned very closely to capture all the sounds.

Also on this day...

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