For your holiday listening and/or karaoke pleasure...
December 18, 2014 11:32 PM   Subscribe

Here's the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: Instrumental Complete and Vocal Complete. Nice, eh? Well, there's more: Abbey Road Instrumental Complete and Vocal Complete.
posted by flapjax at midnite (42 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know why having the vocals and instruments completely combed and parted spooks me out so much. It shouldn't; some of their earlier stereo songs did just that. I like it. This is like something that I shouldn't be hearing, a transmission from a different universe where the Beatles were an a capella group or a collective of instrumental rock composers. I'm so glad people hacked Rock Band.

Also this is awesome because I am hearing stuff I never had noticed before, as it had been buried in the background. Guitar ines I'd been imagining wrong are now much clearer. It's a neat window into the choices they made when recording. Thanks for posting this.
posted by not_on_display at 11:44 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


This sort of stuff is all I want when it comes to bonus tracks and box sets. Forget demos, alternate versions, remixes, live versions - I just want to hear the constituent elements of the songs I know and love so well, so I can know and love them more.

Thanks so much for these links.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 11:59 PM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Nice horseplay and silly voices between the end of Good Morning Good Morning and Sgt Pepper Reprise (28:30 ish).
posted by colie at 1:47 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


funky as fuck at times
posted by mannequito at 2:12 AM on December 19, 2014


John was right; Paul really is a great bass player.
posted by freakazoid at 3:49 AM on December 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Put on some good headphones and check out the drums/percussion as Polythene Pam descends into She Came In Through The Bathroom Window. Pure energy!

Fuck! What a time to be alive! :-D
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:54 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nice!
I just listened to Abbey Road again, a couple of days ago. It's such a good, old friend and really lends itself to close listening as the mix allows you to pick out the instruments fairly easily. For instance, I still get a thrill listening for the Moog synth to come in on Here Comes the Sun.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:28 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


So how is this done?
posted by Steakfrites at 4:43 AM on December 19, 2014


This is wonderful, here's one of my favorite versions of Sgt. Pepper. There's also a bootleg around of the backing track of the reprise that is incredible.
posted by marxchivist at 5:25 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


So how is this done?

10 years together and at least 1,200 hours on stage.
posted by colie at 5:45 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


So how is this done?

Someone extracted the audio files from the Beatles Rock Band video game, apparently.
posted by sutt at 5:59 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


John was right; Paul really is a great bass player.

Someone extracted the audio files from the Beatles Rock Band video game, apparently.

Coincidentally, I first realized Paul's genius bass skills after trying for a week to 100% "I Saw Her Standing There" on bass in Beatles Rock Band. That bass line was furious!
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:29 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've just realized that they're singing in German towards the end of 'Good Morning'.
posted by ovvl at 7:14 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm sure I saw it on MeFi, but I can't find the post:

Merry Clayton's amazing, haunting isolated vocal track from "Gimmer Shelter"
posted by mkultra at 7:28 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


John was right; Paul really is a great bass player.

Our band learned Here Comes The Sun a few years ago, and I was so intent on getting the guitar part down that I didn't pay much attention to the rest of the instruments. The bass player nailed his part, however, and the first time we played it during practice I involuntarily froze when the bass line came in on the first verse and just listened, slack-jawed. I had never realized how much it added to the song.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:48 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Holy shit. As a person with absolutely no musical background or knowledge, this is like listening to completely different songs. I love it.
posted by Librarypt at 7:51 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also this is awesome because I am hearing stuff I never had noticed before

Yes! I'm listening the Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and it's like a whole other song.

I'm loving this. Thanks for posting it.
posted by bondcliff at 8:17 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm sure I saw it on MeFi, but I can't find the post:

Merry Clayton's amazing, haunting isolated vocal track from "Gimmer Shelter"


That was another Flapjax find: the guiro makes it - deconstructing ‘Gimme Shelter’: listen to the isolated tracks of the Rolling Stones in the studio.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:42 AM on December 19, 2014


Just think, kids: All this without Protools or Autotune!
posted by entropicamericana at 8:45 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


The harp in "She's Leaving Home", which I always knew was there, but was able to ignore behind the vocals, is sheer in(s)anity. It's like Jeff Koons became a musician and slipped into the studio with them, making it all shiny and creepy. Or something.
posted by aught at 8:48 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Bass players struggling with Paul's lines, remember that he was using a pick and a short-scale instrument for 'Standing There' and other early tracks, which does make it easier.
posted by colie at 9:04 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nice horseplay and silly voices between the end of Good Morning Good Morning

They switched to German at the end! That's a great easter egg.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:21 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just before they do the Pepper Reprise Paul says 'Twist it', to which John replies 'ah' and then, in his Elvis impersonation voice, 'shake it'. Was John trying to adjust a mike stand height? Without his glasses on?
posted by colie at 9:37 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


YouTube also had an isolated track of Billy Preston's magical, feather-fingered electric piano solo on Get Back, so awesome.
posted by colie at 10:34 AM on December 19, 2014


I've just realized that they're singing in German towards the end of 'Good Morning'.

Not the first time they had gone all continental in the backing vocals (check at 1:05).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:39 AM on December 19, 2014


Voices for the ages. Is John harmonizing with himself on the last verse of Good Morning Good Morning, at 27:55ish?
posted by aquanaut at 10:58 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thank for posting FaM! I sometimes think of this period in history from the perspective of someone in the distant future: How lucky I must seem to them to have been alive while The Four Gods of the Age walked the earth. (I am a Beatlefan.)

In fact, the only believable explanation for the Beatles is that they are beings from this future. They learned all the greatest music from the previous centuries of human history, then traveled back in time to Liverpool in 1960 and pretended they'd written them. Any explanation that does not resort to supernatural causes is just not credible.

There's some Beatles doc in which George Martin is talking about "Good Morning," a great song in my opinion, but not really one of the Beatles 1%. He's talking about how it exemplifies John's beamed-from-outer-space knack for writing a catchy melody over some fairly bizarre music. I was like, "What's so weird about saxophones? Kenny G hasn't even happened yet." But then he counted out the measures during the verse. I encourage yall to try. The song starts at 30:42., but it's probably easier to count over the studio version, when the vocals come in.

By my count, it goes 3, 4, 3; 3, 5, 4; 5, 4; 2, 5. Which means that the first phrase contains 10 beats, the second 12, the third 9, the fourth 7. Okay? OKAY? Those are some weird numbers right there. A-a-and then! It goes into a triple-time swing thing...and that's before Paul's totally ill, metal-as-fuck guitar solo. And don't even get me started on the little guitar turnarounds in "Here Comes the Sun." Don't even!

For the non-musicians out there, it's probably not going too far to say that 100% of pop music comes strictly in phrases of 4. Sufjan Stevens writes in weird meters a lot, but he's one of the only current songwriters I can think of who does (exposing my ignorance there), and in any case, he's not a lovable, scruffy, working-class lad from Northern England, but an art-damaged headcase, God love 'im, whom you'd expect to be out there. Psychedelic Beatles make my sister-in-law feel sick--that's how you know the psychedelia is working.

Anyway, they wrote songs in weird meters, which is in itself not an accomplishment. But you never notice the weirdness until it's pointed out. You just hum happily along, all the while unaware that you're getting your little mind blown.
posted by Zerowensboring at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


it's probably not going too far to say that 100% of pop music comes strictly in phrases of 4

Yes, but the exceptions to this 2 or 4 bar or 8 bar tyranny are explosions of odd phrase lengths facilitated by either mixed metre (bars of different lengths) or added or subtracted beats, and they do happen. These are often among the most successful of pop songs - I'm thinking of Bowie and Elton John and Abba and Queen particularly. There may be more cool performers, but these guys have sold billions of pop records for a reason.

For example, Nirvana covered 'The Man Who Sold The World' and did not bother to include the mixed metre in it (which you can hear in the anacrusis at the start of each verse as 6 beats or 1-and-a-half bars in Bowie's original, whereas Nirvana turned it into a standardised 2 bars/8 beats). Bowie tracks as far back as Space Oddity make powerful use of deleted and/or added beats, or mixed metre.

A song like 'American Pie' by Don McClean owes part of its long success to the parenthetical 3-bar phrase it makes use of (like an afterthought or an internal hesitant idea). This idea shapes the first half of the verse: "Did you write the book of love/And do you have faith in God above" (4 bars, totally normal, OK, fine but nothing special); "If the Bible tells you so?" (this line forms an unexpected 3 bar 'parenthetical' phrase, YAY!) It's like a thought from within the singer's private mind.

This creates an irregularity that bothers the brain but is paid off and 'solved' in the second half of the verse when our ears get the normal 4-bar conclusive phrase that we've been waiting for and were previously expecting: "Now do you believe in rock and roll?/Can music save your mortal soul?" (4 bar phrase) "And can you teach me how to dance real slow?" (4 bar phrase that relieves the tension of the previous shortened structure, to lead us jubilantly into the chorus).

The Beatles weren't aliens or from the future. They had just been experimenting with formally strict music ideas such as phrase length for years and years. Lennon was obsessed with rhythm and the problem of personal expression within language restrictions. PS I Love You from 1963 has prominent irregular phrase lengths but is an overall failure that Paul was later embarrassed by. As was John by Good Morning Good Morning. But they kept plugging away.

The trick is to make these experiments fit with the inflections of contemporary speech and to fit with the expression of the song, which is a moving target in pop/rock/rap music.
posted by colie at 11:56 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Beatles weren't aliens or from the future.

There goes the liberal media again, twisting my words. I never said they were aliens from the future. That's ridiculous. I said they were humans from the future.
posted by Zerowensboring at 12:01 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


The harp in "She's Leaving Home", which I always knew was there, but was able to ignore behind the vocals, is sheer in(s)anity. It's like Jeff Koons became a musician and slipped into the studio with them, making it all shiny and creepy. Or something.
A nice little segment on the harpist.
posted by dfan at 12:24 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


colie, i've spent a lot of time trying to show my brother, a very good guitarist, how to count the guitar turnaround in the bridge to "Here Comes the Sun," where it shifts from 4/4 to...something else. It's so counterintuitive--you hear and imagine Harrison is playing a measure of 4 then a measure of 2, which would be a little peculiar. But it's so much weirder than that, sort of 3 groups of triplets in half-time followed by a 2/3 of another triplet-group; followed by a measure of 4 and then 2 and then another double-time triplet-measure, and then the cycle repeats. It sounds like a repeat of the figure that appears after "It's all right" throughout the song but it ain't. I think Harrison said that part was influenced by his study of classical Hindustani music.
posted by Zerowensboring at 12:50 PM on December 19, 2014


Just have to say, this post and discussion remind me of why I love Metafilter. I honestly didn't know about all the crazy time signature shifts, the technical virtuosity of the Paul's bass lines, etc. Now I get to back to some of my favorite music with completely new things listen for.
posted by treepour at 1:17 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


re: "Here Comes the Sun" - it's 3+3+3+3+4. I'm sure George just wrote it by sound and shape, without giving a toss how you write it down. I'd probably want to see it as 4 measures of 3/8 followed by 1 measure of 4/8. As a technical matter it's not especially ground-breaking (although I don't mean to belittle it - it is one of my favorite songs). Another way to look at it - 2 bars of 3/4 followed by a bar of 2/4, or even more straightforward - 2 bars of 4/4 with a melody that crosses over the bar line.

One point that I think is worth taking from this kind of analysis is that music theory is of dubious value. There's nothing especially cosmic about that part - mixed meters exist in lots and lots of music well before the Beatles (including in America in the 20th century - Miles Davis, for example). That is not to take anything away from their brilliance or the beauty of their work. Just don't get bogged down with the technicalities. I agree that John Lennon pushed some boundaries re: rhythm, but it was in service of the lyrics that he was writing. I don't think he set out to write in mixed meters. I think he wrote a lyric and made the music fit it. And he was exceptionally good at doing so.

IMHO,
posted by fingers_of_fire at 2:02 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


For more weird Lennon time signatures - check out "She Said She Said", and "Happiness is a Warm Gun". A McCartney contribution - "Yesterday", where the phrase length is 7 measures, as opposed to the more traditional 8 measures. ("Yesterday/all my troubles seemed so far away/now it looks as though they're here to stay/Oh I believe in yesterday" = the first syllable of the last word lands on beat 1 of measure 7.) This last example illustrates my already belabored point - Paul DREAMED this song. The Beatles were fantastically intuitive musicians who fearlessly broke rules - without even realizing the rules existed! They heard what they heard, and that was that.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 2:05 PM on December 19, 2014


This vocals-only version of Sgt Pepper confirms my observation that the dreamy vocal between Paul and John's parts in A Day In The Life is Paul, not John.

I downloaded the audio from YouTube, then opened it in Audacity to break it down into the individual songs. The audio is in stereo, which is displayed in two channels.

When we get to A Day In The Life, John's vocal is predominantly in the left channel, while Paul's is in the right. Immediately after Paul sings, "...and I went into a dream," you can hear him take a breath and begin the dreamy "ahhh" vocal. There's no vocal edit, and the two parts are in the same channel. The vocal timbre is very similar to his "ahhh" vocal at the beginning of Lovely Rita.

Meanwhile, you can hear John contributing higher vocals in the left channel - which is where his vocal is when his final verse resumes.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 2:43 PM on December 19, 2014


Huh. I would have bet cash money that was John.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2014


The Beatles were fantastically intuitive musicians who fearlessly broke rules - without even realizing the rules existed!

But Paul did not dream 'Yesterday' in 1957 when he started writing songs; he dreamed it 8 years later when he had already written and covered hundreds of songs. The first song he composed that we know widely is probably 'When I'm 64', which by contrast with the 'Yesterday' masterpiece, is completely foursquare and packed with conventional structures.

The phrase rhythm/metre experiments in the Beatles work that are mentioned above do not appear for the first six years or more of their time together which was the most intensive in terms of learning and devising new material, day in day out, eyeball to eyeball (no mixed metre at all till 1966, although phrase length goes bonkers from the Hard Day's Night LP onwards).

I believe the most effective way of understanding their evolution is to see them as solving musical puzzles intuitively, in dialogue with themselves, their past work, and their audience. This is somewhat different from the 'they ignored the rules' approach, which - as anyone who's picked up a guitar and tried it will know - simply doesn't work.

(Phrase length and rhythm is central to folk/blues-derived musics far more than, say, Jazz because it is in dialogue with patterns established by singers who in traditional music-making settings would have had to pause strategically to take breaths, improvise new lyrics, and allow their words to be processed by the audience. It's more of a physiological thing rather than a dusty academic 'music theory' thing.)
posted by colie at 1:07 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Only The Beatles would decide to write and play and record live for the entire world a song (All You Need is Love) that alternates between measures of seven and eight beats, with bunch of extra musicians in to the bargain. And they almost pulled it off.
posted by jetsetsc at 6:08 AM on December 20, 2014


I'm not suggesting that the Beatles sprang forth fully formed - there definitely was a gestation period, an education of sorts, where they were exposed to more and more music of a wider degree of innovation. I just don't think that they were so deliberate and strategic about what they were doing - I think they wrote what they wrote and so be it. I genuinely wonder if Sir Paul knows to this day that the phrase lengths in "Yesterday" are 7 bars. Similarly, I find it hard to believe that John Lennon knew what the meter-map of "Good Morning Good Morning" is - I think he just wrote the song from a place of musical and lyrical invention - informed, as colie points out, by the music he has digested over the years, aided by his creativity.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:05 AM on December 20, 2014


I agree, the creative process is a mix of elements both conscious and not, but also there are actually quite a few examples of diligent formalism placed before spontaneity of expression in the historical record of the Beatles. E.g. John has said in interviews that in the early days whenever he and Paul learned a new chord they would make themselves write a song around it that day. Paul says he liked Long Tall Sally because 'it's tricky to write a good song with only one note in it.'

With All You Need Is Love, John just cut a beat out at the end of each line of the verse because it was 'dead air', something he'd earlier done by deleting a bar from a four-bar phrase as early as It Won't Be Long on the second LP.
posted by colie at 8:23 AM on December 20, 2014


Right. There's a difference between cutting a beat out of each line (which is brilliant and intuitive and RESULTS in rhythmic innovation, rules be damned!) and deliberately setting out to expand the rhythmic boundaries of your music by writing a song in 7. The former is inspired, the latter is contrived (or can be, I suppose).

I don't know, maybe I'm being naive - I'm just inclined to believe that with the Beatles, the mechanics were made to fit the inspiration - whether that be a new chord, an aeolian cadence, or a phrase length. And to me the proof is that it all sounds so musical and inspired - if you set out to write something as quirky and bizarre as "Happiness is a Warm Gun", it would just sound contrived. Instead, the music functions as a tool to express the creative imagination of the composer - and if that means you have weird meter changes, than so be it.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh man, the instrumental version of With A Little Help From My Friends is perfect 60s sunshine pop. It's as classy and well-played as anything laid down by the Wrecking Crew under Brian Wilson. The Beatles weren't always so precise with their recordings, but this is just in the pocket. I love the vocals on this song, but without them this song becomes something else altogether. Sublime.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:08 PM on December 20, 2014


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