Thursday, November 15, 2018

"White Album" engineers recount tales

Forbes talks with original "White Album" engineers Ken Scott and Chris Thomas here.

Some tidbits:

Scott says: “Just before starting ‘Back In the U.S.S.R.’ in August, Ringo quit the band, so suddenly there was no drummer. Initially Paul played drums. It wasn’t quite good enough, so then both George and John played drums and we made a composite of all of that. Ringo left because he felt unloved. Within a marriage, in the early stages it is ‘Oh my darling, you look so beautiful tonight’ and then after a couple of years it is ‘you look fine, now carry on.’ The Beatles were going through that. No one was telling the others how great they were. Ringo is one of the best rock and roll drummers I have worked with, he was incredible, but nobody was telling him that. He felt unimportant, so he said ‘why am I here’ and just left. The other three all went around to see him and they were all going through the same thing so he returned to the band again. George filled No. 2 studio with flowers and there was a huge ‘Welcome Back Ringo’ over the drum kit; the smell was incredible.”

... George Harrison had demoed his anti-capitalistic rant “Piggies” on acoustic guitar. Thomas, looking for a different instrument, found a harpsichord being used for a classical recording in Abbey Road’s Studio No. 1: “George was playing it and suddenly started on another song. I said, ‘that’s fantastic, it is much better than ‘Piggies.’’ It was ‘Something.’ It was the first time George had played it to anybody and I said: ‘It’s great, we should really do that.’ He said ‘Do you really think it is good? I will give it to Jackie Lomax.’ [Harrison had penned the single ‘Sour Milk Sea’ for Lomax’s first single on the Beatles’ new record label Apple.] Unfortunately I didn’t get my way and only worked on that a bit later.” The song was finally released on the 1969 album Abbey Road.

... George Harrison had demoed his anti-capitalistic rant “Piggies” on acoustic guitar. Thomas, looking for a different instrument, found a harpsichord being used for a classical recording in Abbey Road’s Studio No. 1: “George was playing it and suddenly started on another song. I said, ‘that’s fantastic, it is much better than ‘Piggies.’’ It was ‘Something.’ It was the first time George had played it to anybody and I said: ‘It’s great, we should really do that.’ He said ‘Do you really think it is good? I will give it to Jackie Lomax.’ [Harrison had penned the single ‘Sour Milk Sea’ for Lomax’s first single on the Beatles’ new record label Apple.] Unfortunately I didn’t get my way and only worked on that a bit later.” The song was finally released on the 1969 album Abbey Road.

... Scott says: “Far from the album being the sound of a band breaking up, they got on well.” They had some artistic differences and arguments “but it was always over with and forgotten 15 minutes later.”

Thomas says: “Geoff Emerick’s book said they weren’t getting on. When I read that, I could not believe it, because they were very happy times. Every now and again there might be an argument about something. Paul didn’t like ‘Revolution 9’ and in actual fact that track got wrecked. Very early on it was really quite haunting. But the reason they worked in different studios was not because they weren’t talking to each other or going off in a strop or something like that, it was because they had to get the work done and they were on a deadline.”

Scott says: “There was tension at times between George Martin and the band. We were in No 2 mixing ‘Savoy Truffle.’ George Harrison wanted it very high-endy, it was almost painful. We recorded the saxes and he wanted them distorted. George Martin came in halfway through and said ‘’Don’t you think it’s a bit toppy?’ and George Harrison turned around and said ‘Yeah, and that’s the way I want it.’ George Martin just went out.”

Ringo discusses "White Album" reissue, new book, with Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone has a new interview with Ringo here, which includes his thoughts on the new "White Album" anniversary edition and details on his new Genesis Publications photo book, "Another Day in the Life."
“Long, Long, Long” — your drumming on that is mind-blowing.“Yer Blues” is my favorite, only because of we were in a 10-foot room, not that huge room at EMI. And we were like a band again, you know — like a little club band. 
But “Long, Long, Long,” I was talking to Olivia [Harrison, George’s wife] about this. Before, “Long, Long, Long” was actually just part of the album. But with the remaster, it is sensational. So beautiful — it’s very moving. And I didn’t think we got that a hundred years ago, when we made it.


Vintage Paul McCartney Hofner guitars advertising poster