In the studio

The oldest song on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack was the title track, which had been recorded for the Revolver album in May and June 1966.

The first original song to be recorded was ‘Only A Northern Song’. This was taped in February 1967 during the Sgt Pepper sessions, but was rejected for that album and replaced with George Harrison’s ‘Within You Without You’. ‘Only A Northern Song’ was completed in April 1967, with the addition of new vocals, bass guitar, trumpet, and glockenspiel.

‘All Together Now’ was the next of the songs to be recorded, on 12 May 1967. ‘It’s All Too Much’ was recorded a few weeks later, in May and June 1967.

‘All You Need Is Love’ had been a single in July 1967, the month after it was recorded and premiered during the worldwide satellite broadcast Our World.

‘Hey Bulldog’ was taped on 11 February 1968, shortly before The Beatles’ trip to India to study Transcendental Meditation. It was written and recorded while The Beatles were being filmed for a promotional film for ‘Lady Madonna’.

Paul said we should do a real song in the studio, to save wasting time. Could I whip one off? I had a few words at home so I brought them in.
John Lennon
The Beatles, Hunter Davies

George Martin’s score for the Yellow Submarine film was recorded at Olympic Sound Studios in London in spring 1968, but was re-recorded for the soundtrack album at Abbey Road on 22 and 23 October 1968, three months after the film went on general release.

Martin conducted the 41-strong George Martin Orchestra in Studio One. He co-produced the sessions with Ron Richards and John Burgess, with Geoff Emerick engineering and Nick Webb the tape op.

Each of the sessions lasted for three hours. The results were mixed in stereo and edited for release on 24 and 25 October. The mono album was a fold-down of the stereo mix.

The stereo and mono albums were cut by Harry Moss at Abbey Road on 22 and 25 November 1968 respectively.

The release

The Beatles had originally intended to release the four original Yellow Submarine songs on an EP, with the bonus song ‘Across The Universe’, in September 1968.

This was to have been on a mono 7″ single, to be played at 33? rpm, but plans were put on hold to make way for the release of the White Album.

When the Yellow Submarine album eventually emerged on 13 January 1969 in the United States, and four days later in the UK, it was several months after the film’s launch in July 1968, demonstrating how low a priority it was for the band.

While it was issued only in stereo in the US, it was available in mono and stereo in the UK. However, the mono version was simply a fold-down, made by combining the two stereo channels into one, rather than a true mono mix.

In the US, an 8-track tape version contained ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, another of the film’s songs, as an additional track.

Yellow Submarine was first released on compact disc in August 1987. It featured the UK artwork, and liner notes by Derek Taylor and Tony Palmer.

In 1999 the Yellow Submarine Songtrack album was released. It omitted a href=”/people/george-martin/”>George Martin’s orchestral instrumentals, and contained remixes of The Beatles songs, including nine not included in the original soundtrack album.

A remastered version of the Yellow Submarine album was released on 9 September 2009, along with all The Beatles’ other albums. This edition included both the US and UK sleeve notes, plus historical information and recording notes.

Chart success

Yellow Submarine sold comparatively poorly for a Beatles album. It peaked at number three in the UK, and remained in the top 15 for ten weeks.

In the US it reached number two, where it was held off by the White Album. In 1969 it spent 24 weeks in the American charts.

The soundtrack fared better in Canada and Norway, where it topped the album charts. In Canada it was number one for two weeks, ending the White Album’s 12-week run at the top.

The Yellow Submarine EP

After the release of the album, the Beatles received criticism for its poor value for money. As a result, they revived the idea of issuing an EP of the original songs plus ‘Across The Universe’.

The EP was to have had ‘Only A Northern Song’, ‘Hey Bulldog’, and ‘Across The Universe’ on side one, and ‘All Together Now’ and ‘It’s All Too Much’ on side two.

A master tape was compiled in March 1969, and contained true mono mixes of the songs, but the release was abandoned. The mixes can be heard on the Mono Masters disc in the 2009 box set The Beatles In Mono.

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