Recording, mixing: Back In The USSR

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

The day after Ringo Starr temporarily quit The Beatles, the rest of the group continued work on the White Album song ‘Back In The USSR’.

Overdubs were added to take five, the rhythm track previously recorded. Paul McCartney added piano and George Harrison played more drums onto track three, erasing John Lennon six-string bass guitar part. Another electric guitar track was also added.

A reduction mix was then made, which was labelled take six, which combined all the instruments onto a single track. McCartney recorded his lead vocals with simultaneous backing by Lennon and Harrison, recorded onto two separate tracks with backups by all three Beatles.

Track four on the tape was filled with a bass guitar overdub by McCartney, six-string bass by Harrison, and Lennon hitting a snare drum.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Back In The USSR

A single mono mix of ‘Back In The USSR’ was then made, during which the sound of a jet plane was added. The sound of a Viscount aeroplane taking off and landing had been recorded at London Airport, and came from the tape Volume 17: Jet and Piston Engine Aeroplane, from Abbey Road’s collection.

A stereo mix of the song was made on 13 October 1968.

For the mono mix everything came out OK, but the stereo mix took a long, long time and I was holding the pencil to keep the effects tape taut. I guess I must have been leaning back on it and started to stretch it, because the mono has this clear, clean lovely jet sound while the stereo is an abomination of a jet sound.
John Smith, tape operator
The Beatles, super deluxe edition

Before the session ended at 3am, four sets of the final mono mixes of ‘Back In The USSR’, ‘Rocky Raccoon’, ‘Wild Honey Pie’, ‘Mother Nature’s Son’, and ‘Sexy Sadie’ were made and signed out by The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans.

Last updated: 22 June 2023
Recording: Back In The USSR
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