waxy.com discovered parts of a BBC show that takes apart tracks from songs by The Beatles and analyzes the production techniques. Taken from a two-hour broadcast, he highlights “Come Together,” “She’s Leaving Home” and “A Day In The Life.” But there’s even more.
Their method of production, using the equipment they had available at the time, largely consisted of laying down tracks on a four-track tape, mixing them down to a single track on a new four-track tape and adding three more, mixing those down to one, until the finished product was reached — until Abbey Road, a mono recording — few people had stereo equipment back then anyway. Then they’d blow out of town and tell George Martin he could handle the stereo mix himself.
So these case studies allow you to hear in complete isolation the elements of all these well-known songs. Paul singing “She’s Leaving Home” unaccompanied, John counting off the beginning of “Come Together,” the basic track of “A Day In The Life,” with just congas, maracas, piano and acoustic guitar, with a guide vocal by John faintly in the background. Then bit by bit the narrators add the elements.
A lot has been written about “A Day In The Life,” though I was interested to learn that the final chord isn’t just piano, there’s a harmonium in there too. The sound of “Come Together” has always fascinated me, with all those disjointed instrumental sounds — the drum triplets, bass glissandi, high-hat, the “shhh” vocal sound etc. — “coming together” into one continuous riff. The demo dissects this beautifully.
The whole 120-minute program is available several file-sharing networks. Figure 98-104MB of MP3 to download. Enjoy.
Thx to Kottke.org for the lead.