Studio Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
In a session that began at 5pm on 29 April 1966 and finished at 1am the following morning, The Beatles worked on two songs for Revolver: ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘I’m Only Sleeping’.
The backing track for ‘Eleanor Rigby’ had been recorded with a string octet the day before. On this day, Paul McCartney added his lead vocals onto track four, and he, John Lennon and George Harrison sang harmonies for the chorus on track three.
The song was considered finished at this stage, and three mono mixes were made during this session. However, George Martin requested an additional vocal overdub from McCartney on 6 June 1966, leaving these mixes redundant.
The Beatles had recorded the backing track for ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ on 27 April. On this day, however, they recorded five takes of a remake.
A number of rehearsals were taped first, with drums and vibraphone on track one of the four-track tape, and acoustic guitar on the second, all of which were performed simultaneously. One of the surviving rehearsal performances was eventually mixed in mono and included on 1996’s Anthology 2.
The five proper takes were recorded over the first nine minutes of the rehearsal. Only the first take was complete, and featured acoustic guitars, percussion, and vocals by Lennon and McCartney, all of which were recorded simultaneously onto track one of the four-track tape. It, too, was eventually released on Anthology 2.
The Beatles evidently thought this version inferior to the 27 April one, and they returned to take 11 from that night to overdub further instruments. Lennon added his lead vocals, with the tape running at 45 cycles per second instead of the normal 50. Upon playback, therefore, it sounded faster and higher.
Also on this day...
- 2008: Give Peace A Chance lyrics to be sold
- 1977: UK album release: Thrillington by Paul McCartney
- 1969: Recording, mixing: Octopus’s Garden
- 1967: John Lennon attends the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream
- 1965: Filming: Help!
- 1964: Live: ABC Cinema, Edinburgh
- 1964: The Beatles are photographed with their Madame Tussauds wax figures
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
I know that John and George were most likely playing acoustic guitars on take 1 of this ultimately discarded remake of “I’m Only Sleeping”, but since I hear no evidence of a bass guitar, it’s likely that Paul was collaborating with Ringo on the percussion – I don’t know which of them plays tambourine or congas.
On the rehearsal take, if it was Paul playing the vibraphone, it would’ve definitely made sense for him to do so, since his father Jim had a background playing in jazz and ragtime bands in the Liverpool area, and this no doubt would’ve had a huge musical impact on the young Paul during his childhood – I mean in a good way, not a detrimental way.
Anyway, Ringo was obviously playing the drums and whilst John is clearly playing acoustic guitar, it sounds like a nylon-string acoustic guitar was being used as well, so I’m guessing that George may have played it.
Either way, Paul plays some very good bass fills on the released version