The Beatles: Anthology 4
February 16, 2014 8:24 PM   Subscribe

Isolated mixes of vocal/instrumental elements of Beatles' recordings have been featured on MetaFilter previously - notably a breakdown of the elements of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the epic mix of the original Revolution 1/Revolution 9 session, and the vocal mix of the Abbey Road Long Medley. Since hearing that Long Medley mix, I've been enjoying a months-long trawl of YouTube, listening to all I can find in this vein, and identifying mixes of notable interest.

Rubber Soul
  • Nowhere Man [without vocals]. Admittedly the harmonized vocals are the focal point of the released version of this song - which perhaps makes a vocal-free version all the more interesting, in a sense.
  • I'm Looking Through You [bass]. A bouncy, melodic bassline, acccompanied faintly in spots by Paul's guide vocal as he plays - feels like you're there in the studio as he lays down his bass line.
Revolver Sgt. Pepper Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Magical Mystery Tour/Yellow Submarine The White Album
  • Revolution [guitars and piano]. John and George's guitars are isolated here, one in each speaker - this is a good one to listen to on headphones. A great, driving 12-bar blues, carried admirably by these two guitars. Nicky Hopkins joins in on electric piano.
  • Revolution [drums]. Ringo!
  • Back in the USSR [drums]. A fairly straight drum track - but the novelty here is that it's Paul playing, rather than Ringo. Actually, it's a lot of fun - I can't imagine Ringo playing something so jaunty.
  • Dear Prudence [bass and drums]. Mostly Paul here, playing both bass and drums. Some guitar textures appear at points, courtesy of George - and a bit of piano (the latter played, again, by Paul) .
  • Dear Prudence [vocals]. A double-tracked vocal from John, but what's particularly interesting here are the harmonized backing vocals.
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps [lead guitar]. Just Eric Clapton's lead guitar.
  • Birthday [guitars]. A Lennon-led guitar assault.
  • Helter Skelter [guitars]. The main guitar on this track comes in at about 0:40, so the other guitars sound a bit tinny. But you can compensate by turning the volume up to eleven. Listen to the boys abuse guitars.
  • Helter Skelter [vocals]. The three-part harmonized backing vocals are impeccably delivered, in stark contrast to Paul's unhinged lead vocal delivery.
  • Can You Take Me Back [complete]. The full version of the snippet (begins at 1:25) heard on the White Album.
Get Back (Let It Be) Abbey Road
posted by paleyellowwithorange (19 comments total) 138 users marked this as a favorite
Woo! Cool post! Now I'm gonna turn the volume off of the Olympics and listen to some gold medal music. Thank you very much for your efforts.
posted by frodisaur at 8:37 PM on February 16, 2014

Great stuff!
posted by Fnarf at 8:45 PM on February 16, 2014

"And Your Bird Can Sing" is my fave Beatles song, and that snippet of supercharged rhythm, in which I can hear in my mind the lead taking off, does nothing to change that feeling. What a sound!
posted by Fnarf at 8:53 PM on February 16, 2014

thanks! great stuff
posted by thelonius at 9:10 PM on February 16, 2014

What a ton of work, linking all this.You are my hero. Forever.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 9:29 PM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well so much for a productive Monday, awesome stuff!
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:47 PM on February 16, 2014

Straight up WOW. Great post!
posted by Lizard at 10:14 PM on February 16, 2014

Thank you!
posted by Chitownfats at 11:40 PM on February 16, 2014

Yes, thanks a ton! I've been listening to the Anthology 2 & 3 this weekend, so this is perfect timing. One thing I've noticed with these Anthology volumes is how many tracks, even while they add something interesting, reveal that the Beatles (and George Martin) always, always picked the right mix as the final.

And that's not just because those are the ones we've been listening to all these years. Listening to outtakes and alternate mixes/versions of other great bands (from any era), I usually hear a few that should've been the master. Never happens with the Beatles.
posted by saintjoe at 4:08 AM on February 17, 2014

Gear! Thank you PYWO!

Re: Paul's drums on USSR, pros: nicely mic'd kick, on top of the beat, good feel. Cons: Tom fills sound like toys falling down the stairs.

Ringo and Paul are both left-handed, but Ringo played a right-handed kit, giving him those trademark loopy fills. I wonder if Paul decided not to re-arrange them and then got bit when he went for a fill.
posted by petebest at 5:17 AM on February 17, 2014

This is a great time to remind ya'll that if you're using Chrome, install PlayAll by metaFilter's own ignignokt's

This is what it was made for. Great, great post.

PS: ignignokt... you have a lot of different 'handles' online. Took me forever to figure out what you were on mefi.
posted by DigDoug at 6:42 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is all kinds of great. Thank you so much.
posted by seyirci at 8:11 AM on February 17, 2014

I think this, with a couple of FireFox plug-ins, might be useful to some of you:
posted by wenestvedt at 1:37 PM on February 17, 2014

I think it's John doing the "Ahhhh" in A Day in the Life, not Paul. Amazing, I had never heard those vocals in the background. I'd also never noticed that the panting sound after "looking up, I noticed I was late" is by someone other than Paul (presumably John).
posted by John Cohen at 1:43 PM on February 17, 2014

I used to think it was John, too. But I'm almost convinced it's Paul.

This was actually the subject of an interesting debate on about 15 years ago. Until it came up there, it had never occurred to me that it wasn't John. Ever since then, I've always listened to that part closely, and until recently I've gone back and forth.

But listening to this 'vocals only' mix pushes me more towards it being Paul. I'll admit it sounds like it could be John in parts, but there are just elements of vocal timbre that more strongly suggest Paul to me.

Circumstantially, too, it belongs with Paul's part of the song - his last line before the "Aah"s is "...and I went into a dream." It's Paul's dream we're hearing, so it makes sense that it would be his vocal.

But this is just my opinion - I've never seen anything authoritative on the matter.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:10 PM on February 17, 2014

Nice post! Thanks, paleyellowwithorange.
posted by homunculus at 8:37 PM on February 17, 2014

Great post, but you're crazy; it's definitely John.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:46 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Curious Artificer: It's okay, I was in denial at first, too. ;-)

It is an unusual range for Paul. For perhaps helpful comparison, though, listen to the outro of the vocals only version of Lovely Rita (the bit with all the batty vocals). Paul engages the same pitch and tonal range there, in another song from the same era.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 4:16 PM on February 18, 2014

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