"Sgt. Pepper"

The first track I had the opportunity to thoroughly examine is "Sgt Pepper" but I immediately noticed something.

1 Feb 67 - E693165 (takes 1-9)
Track 1 - instrumental backing
Track 2 - bass
Track 3 - empty
Track 4 - empty
The Beatles recorded the basic backing - two guitars by Paul and George with Ringo's drums on one track and Paul overdubbed bass onto a second track. Interesting that John doesn't play an instrument on this song.

2 Feb 67 - E693165 (takes 1-9)
Track 1 - instrumental backing
Track 2 - bass
Track 3 - lead and chorus vocals
Track 4 - harmony vocals
They overdubbed lead and chorus vocals onto a third track with harmony vocals dubbed onto the fourth track of take 9.

2 Feb 67 - E63022 (take 10)
Track 1 - reduction (instrumental backing + bass)
Track 2 - empty
Track 3 - empty
Track 4 - reduction (lead and chorus vocals + harmony vocals)
Then, they mixed (reduced) take 9 from E693165 to two tracks onto this reel calling it take 10.

2 Feb 67 - E63081 (take 10)
RM1 which is what we hear from the acetate.

3 Mar 67 - E63022 (take 10)
Track 1 - reduction (instrumental backing + bass)
Track 2 - empty
Track 3 - brass + lead guitar
Track 4 - reduction (lead and chorus vocals + harmony vocals)
Brass and lead guitar was dubbed onto the third track.

That is probably reel E63022 over Paul's right shoulder.

6 Mar 67 - E63022 (take 10)
Track 1 - reduction (instrumental backing + bass)
Track 2 - atmosphere (tuning and audience)
Track 3 - brass + lead guitar
Track 4 - reduction (lead and chorus vocals + harmony vocals)
Atmosphere was added to track 2.

6 Mar 67 - E63460 (take 10)
RS8 (official release)

6 Mar 67 - E63530 (take 10)
RM3 (official release)

OK... if ALL vocals were done on 2 Feb... why can we hear the 3 Mar overdubs (brass and lead guitar) on the vocal track? To my ears, this sounds like headphone leakage as they recorded the vocals.

What you don't hear on the vocal track (and you SHOULD hear it) is the initial guitar, bass, drums backing. Clearly, this is what they would have been singing to and should be what we hear coming from the headphones.

At first, I thought this might indicate an undocumented overdub of some vocal part. Let's say, after the brass and lead guitar overdubs, they felt additional vocals were needed and they bounced track 2 onto track 4 while simultaneously adding additional vocals. Clearly they would need to hear the music as the dub was added. However... one would assume that all the music would need to be heard in the headphones but all we hear from the headphones on the final vocal track is the brass and lead overdub. Surely, depending on exactly what it was, it would have been difficult to get the timing with just the brass and lead track.

I considered "bleeding" (the sound from one track bleeding onto the next track). Which is very possible. But I still think it sounds like headphone leakage.

I've listened closely to the acetate mix and I'm not sure if I'm hearing it or not. The quality of the acetate is, of course, rough. On the other hand, I only barely hear it when I play just the backing and vocal multi-tracks together (which should be what is hear on the acetate). But this might simply be because the multi-tracks are so much cleaner than the acetate. It seems I might hear it on the acetate however, I have to wonder if my imagination is playing tricks on me (I'm so familiar with the brass parts that I could actually be hearing them in my head and not on the acetate).

But, since the brass and lead were recorded over a month after the vocals, they shouldn't be heard on the vocal track.

I notice the brass/lead track was created by some sort of "punch in" or actual tape splicing technique (the edits are clearly evident). I have to wonder if this might be some sort of clue.

What I've further noticed is that a few fragments of the original backing can, indeed, be heard on the vocal track at...
1:24 (fragment)

Closer examination seems to reveal that some sort of punch-in or editing was done to the vocals. I'm beginning to think there was some sort of undocumented work done on the vocals AFTER the 3 Mar brass/lead overdubs. I bet the vocals were bounced to another track and something was done in the process and, somehow, the brass/lead overdubs crept in. I just can't find the right piece to the puzzle.

In conclusion, I've found no concrete evidence to indicate any specific scenerio. According to documented evidence, the brass and lead overdubs should NOT be on the vocal track. Any theories?

Having these multi-tracks affords us the opportunity to trace almost the complete recording of "Sgt. Pepper". I have yet to determine if the same can be applied to the other songs. This is what they would have listened to at the end of each session. In parentheses is the corresponding Purple Chick track number.

1 Feb 67
Take 9a

guitar, drums backing (cannot be isolated)

1 Feb 67
Take 9b

guitar, bass, drums backing (PC02)
Even though we can isolate this, the original would probably have slightly different EQ.

2 Feb 67
Take 9c

guitar, bass, drums backing (PC02)
vocals (PC03)
Again, we can isolate this (even with the take announcement) but the original probably had different EQ

2 Feb 67
Take 10a
(take 9 mixed)
guitar, bass, drums backing (PC02)
vocals (PC03)
We have this actual mix on acetate and, if you can get the EQ correct, it can be created from the multitracks.

3 Mar 67
Take 10b

guitar, bass, drums backing (PC02)
vocals (PC03)
brass + lead guitar (PC04)
Clearly, we have this.

6 Mar 67
Take 10c

guitar, bass, drums backing (PC02)
vocals (PC03)
brass + lead guitar (PC04)
atmosphere (PC01)
Obviously, we have this mixed on the official releases and should be able to recreate those mixes from these multi-tracks (even with the segue into "With A Little Help...").


"With A Little Help From My Friends"

29 Mar 67 - E63637 (takes 1-10)
track 1 - piano
track 2 - guitar
track 3 - drums, cowbell
track 4 - organ intro
Indications are that all four of these tracks were performed simultaneously but I see the possibility George Martin might have added the organ as an after thought. Since the Yellow Submarine Songtrack mix utilized this reel for the backing tracks (syncing it to the overdubs from take 11), oopsing the YSS mix will almost isolate the piano track from this reel. On a relative note about the YSS mix, the piano and the guitar are panned hard left and right respectively.

Also, I'm convinced I hear a faint guide vocal from Paul on the reduction (below). I wonder if this was off-mic or was it possibly recorded on track 4 after the organ intro and dubbed onto track 2 of the next reel only to be later wiped?

29 Mar 67 - E63462 (take 11)
track 1 - reduction
track 2 - empty
track 3 - Ringo vocal
track 4 - Ringo vocal
All four tracks of take 10 from the previous reel (E63637) were reduced to track one on this reel and called take 11 which, essentially, provides us with a vintage isolated mix of take 10. Lewisohn indicates Ringo did two vocals on this day (with John and Paul adding their vocals the next day). However, in The Making Of Sgt. Pepper, George Martin states that John and Paul did their vocals first. I tend to believe Lewisohn because, first, it would seem more logical for Ringo to do his vocal first and, second, Ringo's vocal can be heard on John and Paul's track (track 4). This also lends to my theory that there might have originally been a guide vocal on track 2 of this reel for Ringo to either sing along with or to learn how the phrasing worked within the song.

30 Mar 67 - E63462 (take 11)
track 1 - reduction
track 2 - guitar piece, tambourine, bass, (drum intro)
track 3 - Ringo vocal, John & Paul vocal
track 4 - John & Paul vocals, organ intro, guitar piece
Lewisohn and Martin both indicate that track 2 was recorded live and, indeed, it sounds like that is the case. Since Ringo, John and Paul's vocals can all be heard on track 2, it must have been recorded after tracks 3 and/or 4. In addition, neither Lewisohn or Martin mention the drum intro which is clearly punched in and, because John and Paul's vocals can also be heard there, it must have been one of the last things recorded for the song.

If in fact Ringo did record two vocals, it's unclear which one we're hearing. It sounds as if Ringo's vocal flows as a single recording. But, since both of Ringo's vocals were apparently done in the same session, the ambience should be nearly identical thus making a punch in difficult to discern.

As for the John and Paul vocals on Ringo's track 3, some are clearly punch ins (0:00-0:09, 1:13-1:19, 1:22-1:26) but I think the rest were recorded as Ringo sang (note Paul's utterance at 1:52) which would indicate that John and Paul did some singing on 29 Mar. It's because of these punch ins that I wonder if we're hearing a single Ringo vocal or a combination of the two.

Track 4 seems to be a single performance with the exception of the "Billy Shears"/organ intro (Note: neither Lewisohn or Martin mention this organ overdub) and possibly the closing "ahhhs". Even George's guitar piece sounds like it was done with the vocals.

31 Mar 67 - E63761 (take 11)
RM15 (official release)

6 Apr 67 - E63883
mono crossfades (cut into master)
It appears the mono crossfade was physically spliced into reel E63761 (previous reel) which I suspect would be spliced right before the first line "What would you think" where as...

7 Apr 67 - E63911 (take 11 with crossfades)
RS3 (official release)
... it seem the stereo crossfades were done on-the-fly as the mix was done.

Finally, an anomaly arises with the YSS mix. As I mentioned above, oopsing the YSS mix almost isolates the piano. However, it also isolates the tambourine and one of George's guitar pieces. The anomaly here is that the tambourine and guitar piece are on the same track as the bass. If those two elements are present on the oops, then the bass should also be since they are all on the same track. Even though the YSS mix utilizes the individual tracks of take 10, that should have nothing to do with the tambourine, guitar piece and bass.

In the end, we have...

A vintage mix of take 10. Surely, this received a bit of EQ not present on the actual take 10.

Take 11a (minus one vocal) as heard at the end of the session on 29 Mar.

Take 11b as heard after John and Paul's second vocals and George's guitar piece were added (before the bass, tambourine, second guitar piece and drum intro were added).

Take 11c the complete full song as heard from the four tracks.

Take 11d/e - the mono and stereo mixes which, because of the crossfades, would differ from a mix of the master four tracks.

29 March 1967
Note: the pics taken this day would sure seem to indicate that John might have played more than just cowbell on this song. However, even though The Beatles Monthly labels these pics this date, I have to wonder if that's accurate.

Lewisohn uses a similar photo to illustrate recording the final chord for "A Day In The Life".


The easy one...

"She's Leaving Home"

This is such a straight forward recording (with the exception of one possible punch in) that there's not much to analyze. And there's certainly no anamolies.

17 Mar 67 - E63657 (takes 1-6)
track 1 - harp
track 2 - double bass
track 3 - four violins
track 4 - two violas, two cellos

20 Mar 67 - E63631 (take 9)
track 1 - take 1 reduction (harp, violins)
track 2 - take 1 reduction (double bass, violas, cellos)
track 3 - vocals
track 4 - harmony vocals
Take 1 from E63657 was reduced to two tracks on this reel and called take 9 (takes 7-8 were alternate, unused mixes). It sounds like the last of the three harmony vocal spots (track 4) might be punched in.

This reel, which is what we are hearing on the available multi-tracks, provides a vintage mix of take 1 (but, to me, it's about as important as the backing for "Eleanor Rigby" or "Within You, Without You"). And, while not designated as a 'take', we can hear what they heard in the studio after the first vocal was laid down.

Interestingly, in his log, John Barrett lists this reel as missing. Not implicating Barrett, I wonder if it was at that time (circa 1982) that these recordings leaked out. Considering that the available multi-tracks are all sourced from different reels, one would assume the culprit didn't do it all at once and probably took(?) one reel at a time to avoid notice. Perhaps he had this one when Barrett did his log.

20 Mar 67 - E63372
RM6 (official release)

17 Apr 67 - E64009
RS6 (official release)
Both the final stereo and mono mixes had two brief edits (at 1:17 and 2:30) literally cut out of the tapes removing brief cello passages.


A Day In The Life (whew!)

19 Jan 67 - E63017 (takes 1-4)
track 1 - piano, guitar, maracas, bongos, alarm clock
track 2 - John vocal (best)
track 3 - John vocal, piano bit
track 4 - John vocal, Mal counting
In order to get the proper echo on John's voice, Geoff Emerick utilized tape echo from a second machine. While it's unclear if he did that on each track, surely, that tape no longer exists.

20 Jan 67 - E63022 (take 6)
track 1 - reduction (piano, guitar, maracas, bongos, alarm clock, bit of John's vocal)
track 2 - reduction (John vocal, Mal counting), Paul vocal
track 3 - bass, drums
track 4 - piano
Take 5 was an unused reduction. In The Making Of Sgt. Pepper, George Martin states that John's vocal is a combination of all the vocal takes with most coming from track 2 and John vocal appears to be punched/edited at 0:15, 0:57, 3:19, 3:40(?). Also, indications are that John might have added live vocal to the reduction.

30 Jan 67 - E63081 (take 6)
RM1 that we hear on the acetate. Presumably, this includes everything on E63022 to date.

3 Feb 67 - E63022 (take 6)
track 1 - piano, guitar, maracas, bongos, alarm clock
track 2 - John vocal, Mal counting, Paul vocal (redone), John & Paul "ahhs"
track 3 - bass, drums (redone), tambourine
track 4 - piano
It sounds like the "ahhs" were added at the same time Paul redid his vocal. The tambourine on track 3 doesn't seem to be accounted for. It might have been done along with the bass and drums or a live overdub as this was copied onto the next reel.

10 Feb 67 - E63175 (take 7)
track 1 - piano, guitar, maracas, bongos, alarm clock
track 2 - reduction (John vocal, Mal counting, Paul vocal (redone), John & Paul "ahhs", piano)
track 3 - bass, drums (redone), tambourine
track 4 - sync tone (orchestra?)
Tracks 2 and 4 of E63022 were combined while tracks 1 and 3 appear to be simply copied (probably EQed). This was called take 7 (although a previous but unused take 7 had been mixed on E63022).

Also on this reel are takes 8-11 (recorded this day) of the abandoned "ommm" ending and takes 1-9 (recorded 22 Feb 67) of the final chord ending.

10 Feb 67 - E62357 (take 7)
track 1 - orchestra
track 2 - orchestra
track 3 - orchestra
track 4 - orchestra
Strangely, John Barrett indicates this reel is missing.

To this point, aside from the unreferenced tambourine, there seems to be no mysteries about the recordings and reductions. However, the introduction of the orchestra produces some questions. In The Making Of Sgt. Pepper, George Martin states that the orchestra was recorded five times (Mark Lewisohn and Ken Townshend say "four"). It certainly seems logical that four of those five times were on this reel. That would leave the fifth time (if there even was one) to go on the previous reel.

On the other hand, because two tape machines would be running for the final mixes, it was necessary to syncronize them by placing a 50 cycle sync tone on a track of the first machine which will run the second machine. This would presumably be track 4 of E63175. We can hear what is probably a fragment of that tone at the end of RM9 (noted below).

Likewise, there is the mysterious harpsichord intro on the orchestra track of the available multi-tracks. I'm suspecting this the the 1 March 67 "piano" overdub referred to by Lewisohn (even though that was supposed to be on 'take 6').

Back to the orchestra... to my ears, we're hearing the complete (five) orchestra parts on the available track (however, I cannot discern that definitively). These appear to be punched in at 1:23 and sound like they
continue uninterrupted.

I also hear what sure seems to be a jump in the sound of the harpsichord intro at 0:09 at which time it seems to go out of sync. To me, this sounds like two attempts to sync it to the track.

Theoretically, the available multi-tracks should be E63175 but, since we appear to have the complete orchestral tracks, it seem someone has also dubbed a mix of E62357 and syncronized it onto track 4.

Perhaps, since Barrett indicates the orchestra reel is missing, this might have been done 'in-house' at some point in time. Of course, like with the other 'missing' reel ("She's Leaving Home"), this might lend evidence as
to when these multitracks were leaked.

22 Feb 67 - E63355 (take 7)
RM9 (official release)

22 Feb 67 - E63356 (take 7)
RS1-9 (available on bootleg)
Although RS9 was considered best, more stereo mixing would be done the next day. On these mixes we hear John's count-in (why don't we hear this on the multi-track?) and the mix announcements.

Strangely, these are announced as takes 6 and 7 but they're certainly using reels E63175 and E62357 which only contain take 7. Likewise, Lewisohn documents "tape reduction take 6 into take 7, SI onto take 7, with reduction of take 7 with SI onto take 6". I can't figure out what the hell all that means. Is it possible that they tried to sync the orchestra to take 6 on E63022 for some of these mixes?

These mixes also feature ambient studio sounds from E62357 available nowhere else.

23 Feb 67 - E63357 (take 7)
RS12 (official release)
For both the mono and stereo mixes, reels E63175 and E62357 were syncronized to play simultaneously. The ending piano chord was surely mixed on an unlabeled reel and physically spliced onto the end of the mixes.

In the end, we can't really extract any particular take from these multi-tracks. We can't extract an accurate take 4 due the mixed fashion it was reduced onto E63022. Of course, we already have take 6 but several of its elements are absent here. About all we can get is take 7 sans the orchestra.


To summarize exactly what we have in the correct order that they appear on the master tapes....

A Day In The Life (take 7)

track 1 - piano, guitar, maracas, bongos, alarm clock
track 2 - reduction (John vocal, Mal counting, Paul vocal (redone), John & Paul "ahhs", piano)
track 3 - bass, drums (redone), tambourine
track 4 - orchestra

Sgt Pepper (take 10)
Track 1 - reduction (instrumental backing + bass)
Track 2 - atmosphere (tuning and audience)
Track 3 - brass + lead guitar
Track 4 - reduction (lead and chorus vocals + harmony vocals)

With A Little Help From My Friends (take 11)
track 1 - reduction (backing tracks)
track 2 - guitar piece, tambourine, bass, (drum intro)
track 3 - Ringo vocal, John & Paul vocal
track 4 - John & Paul vocals, organ intro, guitar piece

She's Leaving Home (take 9)
track 1 - reduction (harp, violins)
track 2 - reduction (double bass, violas, cellos)
track 3 - vocals
track 4 - harmony vocals

Whew, I sure hope that made some amount of sense.


On a side note... RE: the audio "artifacts" we're hearing on many of the tracks... Some of it would sure seem to indicate some sort of manipulation somewhere along the line. In my studio experience, I've noticed that, when several headphones are being used for recording a track (typically, two or more vocalists, especially on one microphone), as each headphone is moved around the space (head turning, etc.) a phasing sound similar to what we are hearing can be produced on the recording. This is the result of the actual sound waves in the air hitting the mic at different times. I'm convinced this is, at least, part of what we're hearing. This effect is typically masked when playing all the tracks together and when I play the complete song, I don't hear some of the artifacts.

Also, who knows how many generations the tapes have gone to get to the point we hear them. Minor syncronization problems could begin to creap in because of tape-head alignment and electronic latency. Big problems create obvious sounds where as slight variances will produce the phasing sounds we're hearing.

As for noise reduction, I hear a lot of hiss when all track are played together. If NR was used, it sure seems minimal. But this does provide another possiblity for the artifacts. If the NR was lightly applied over all the tracks (of any particular song) simultaneously, it shouldn't produce any real artifacts. However, if the NR was applied to each track individually, the algorithms used might vary from track to track and, when played together with one or more tracks, could make the NR much more noticeable as a phasing sound.

As for MP3, I could take an MP3 sourced track and make it look like it wasn't. Did someone simply create MP3s as the circulating copies and that's what we're hearing. Remember, bootleg sources have notoriously let out incomplete or less quality recordings leaving the best for themselves or as potential for later release.

Remember, too, they were into phasing on the "Pepper" album. Maybe these tapes are so close to the source (i.e. so clean) that we're hearing things that have been lost in the final mixes which, by the time they reach the public, are in fact, several generation down the line.

I just received the following info...

"About the artifacts/NR issue: I heard a couple of days ago on the grapevine that the tapes were encoded with Dolby A. I don't have the hardware (and apparently there's no software) to decode and check out, but that might explain something. On the other hand, it might not."

Unlike Dolby B and C, Dolby A is only used in professional studios and, interestingly, it was introduced in 1966. Would EMI have used it? I find no reference by Lewisohn. Or would this have been applied when these were copied?