Thursday, 14 February 2013

I Feel Fine recording

This blog seeks to record modern aspects of "history" as well as the more ancient ones. In that light I offer this one. [Please click on the images for enlargements]

Sunday 18th October 1964, the recording of The Beatles song I Feel Fine took place.
Mark Lewisohn’s book reproduces the EMI recording sheet for the session. It shows that there were 9 takes of the song but not all of them were complete; takes 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 marked as breakdowns and only 5, 6, and 9 as complete.

I’ve heard a number of these takes through the recordings that circulate amongst collectors:

Take 1 – With a single tracked guide vocal breaks down during the instrumental break.
Take 2 – Again with a single tracked guide vocal breaks down during the instrumental break after a short burst of feedback from one of the guitar amplifiers.
Take 5 – With a guide vocal is more or less complete but the ending terminates rather abruptly.
Take 6 – The instrumental riff of She's a Woman can be heard on the tape, played on the bass, before the feedback start of I Feel Fine is heard. The feedback is noticeably longer than on the released version and there are no guide vocals on take 6.
Take 7 – The only part of this that I’ve been able to hear is immediately after the take is called the instrumental riff to Tequila is played.
Take 9 – The final and “best” take shows that the ending on the untrimmed master tape breaks down shortly after the “whoop whoop” that can be heard in the outro. This take is an overdub take onto a basic track (take 7 or take 8).

Once a song has been recorded the work doesn’t stop there. The tape is multi track, in this case four track, and each of the component tracks can be played at a different level to create a “mix”. The log at EMI’s Abbey Road studios shows that there were five acknowledged mono mixes done of the song, four on Wednesday 21st October and an fifth one the next day. We know that the third mono mix was used for the UK single and the fourth  mono mix was used for the US single. Why these two singles used different mixes I do not know. I’ve played both and the differences are quite profound. The UK mix is very "dry" but the US mix has reverb all over it and is very echoy.

I have, in my possession, a single sided acetate disc of the song, one of the three that I know to exist. The engineer who cut the disc is recorded on the label, the GE on the right hand side standing for Geoffrey Emerick. Of the three I Feel Fine acetates that I’ve seen two are GE and the third is AB for A B Lincoln.
The time showing on the acetate label, 2:20, shows that this is a recording of take 9 but which mix is it? Acetates are rather fragile and I haven’t played it yet. I need to set up the computer to record it when I do play it in order to analyse the recording. It is probably the third (UK) or fourth (US) mono mix, however, there is an outside chance that it is one of the unused mixes.