The soundtrack for Yellow Submarine, The Beatles’ fourth film, was the band’s tenth UK album. It was released in early 1969, just weeks after the White Album.
The film project had begun in 1967, at a time when The Beatles had little enthusiasm for making a full length film. They had recently completed Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and were more focused on the television special Magical Mystery Tour and its soundtrack.
However, they were under contract by United Artists to make another film, and by way of compromise an animation featuring the voices of actors and the music of The Beatles was decided upon. The Beatles additionally agreed to film a short sequence for the film’s end, and oversaw its creation.
The Beatles supplied four new songs for the film. Two of these – ‘Only A Northern Song’ and ‘It’s All Too Much’ – were by George Harrison. At a time when the guitarist struggled to have his compositions included on The Beatles’ albums, this shows how little regard the band, and John Lennon and Paul McCartney in particular, held the project.
Bespoke, indeed, not exactly a good fit. The dregs of their inventory. Pieces they would in any case jettison: junk, file-and-forget pieces… I don’t fancy you will use the new songs as highlights embracing story points, but rather as filler at best.
Up Periscope Yellow: The Making of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, Al Brodax
Of the other two new songs, ‘Hey Bulldog’ was recorded in a 10-hour session, during the filming of the ‘Lady Madonna’ promotional film. ‘All Together Now’, meanwhile, took even less time, just six hours on 12 May 1967. In the absence of George Martin, the song was essentially produced by Paul McCartney with assistance from engineer Geoff Emerick.
The soundtrack album also contained two older and previously-released Beatles songs – the title track from 1966, and the following year’s ‘All You Need Is Love’.
The albums’s second side comprised seven tracks, re-recordings of the George Martin’s orchestral soundtrack for the film. These album recordings were taped with a 41-piece orchestra over two three-hour sessions on 22 and 23 October 1968, and were mixed and edited on 24 and 25 October.