Studio Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
The Beatles had begun recording their next single, ‘Paperback Writer’, on the previous day. It was completed during this session, as was the backing track of its b-side, ‘Rain’.
Work took place at Studio Three. Between 2.30 and 7.30pm they added a range of overdubs, not all of which were used in the final mix.
Paul McCartney recorded his lead vocals alone on one track, and on another he added a Rickenbacker bass part. The latter was taped along with falsetto backing vocals by John Lennon and George Harrison. Other overdubs included a piano part through a Leslie speaker played, and a Vox Continental part, both by George Martin, and extra lead guitar fills by McCartney.
A reduction mix allowed a fourth track to be cleared. Onto this were added more backing vocals by Lennon and Harrison, including the chorus and the famous ‘Frère Jacques’ countermelody.
Between 7.30 and 8pm two mono mixes of ‘Paperback Writer’ were made in the control room of Studio Three. This featured heavy tape echo in the vocals of the chorus refrain, which was toned down somewhat on the later stereo mix.
Work then began on ‘Rain’, with five takes recorded before work ended at 1.30am.
One of the things we discovered when playing around with [tape] loops on ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was that the texture and depth of certain instruments sounded really good when slowed down. With ‘Rain’ The Beatles played the rhythm track really fast so that when the tape was played back at normal speed everything would be much slower, changing the texture. If we’d recorded it at normal speed and then had to slow the tape down whenever we wanted to hear a playback it would have been much more work.
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
The backing track had Starr’s drums and Lennon and McCartney’s electric guitars, all on track one of the four-track tape. Take five was chosen as the best.
The Beatles performed the song at a fast tempo and in the key of B flat major. The original tempo and pitch can be heard on the 2022 reissue of Revolver.
McCartney overdubbed a bass guitar part onto track two, playing in B flat. The tape machine was then slowed down from 50 cycles per second to 42 cycles, and Lennon recorded lead vocals onto tracks three and four.
‘Rain’ was completed on 16 April during a session that saw a range of further overdubs, including backwards vocals in the coda.
Also on this day...
- 1969: Recording, mixing: The Ballad Of John And Yoko
- 1965: Filming: Help!
- 1964: Filming: A Hard Day’s Night
- 1963: The Beatles see The Rolling Stones perform for the first time
- 1963: Television: Thank Your Lucky Stars
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
Isn’t the tape speed comment for Rain the wrong way round, or incomplete? Surely they recorded the _backing_ track with the tape running at _more_ than 50 cycles, so when played back at 50 cycles it sounds slowed down and lower in pitch.
I think they then slowed the tape – maybe to 42 cycles? if my arithmetic is right, a shift of about 3 semitones – to record John’s vocals.
According to https://beatlesinstudio.blogspot.com/ the famous image of Mick Jagger in conversaton with John and Paul was taken during this session.
I enjoy these tidbits about the Beatles` recording practices.
The basic track to “Rain” actually had two guitars, bass and drums, as evidenced by Take 5 at the original speed, so this means that John and George were on guitars, Paul was on bass and Ringo was on drums, and even http://www.beatlesebooks.com/rain confirms this.
The lead guitar fills on “Paperback Writer” were actually played by George, not Paul, according to Phil McDonald’s handwritten notes – http://www.beatlesebooks.com/paperback-writer.