The Beatles - November 1966 to February 1968


Mag 15 2011, 0:39

As a fan of The Beatles I found Mark Lewisohn's book "The Beatles Recording Sessions" fascinating for many reasons. One thing I discovered is that nineteen songs the band recorded between the last week of November 1966 through the second week of February 1968 have (currently) ended up compiled on three albums. The more or less random groupings makes it easy to lose track of how the Beatles were progressing as artists during this period. So I thought I would pass some of my findings along. Here is the chronology:

As you can see Strawberry Fields Forever was recorded over about four weeks at the end of 1966. Penny Lane began in the last days of 1966 and was finished by the middle of January 1967. Along with When I'm Sixty-Four, also recorded in December of 1966, these songs would have been included on what would become Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but pressure on the band to release the songs as an double A-side single prevailed.

Only a Northern Song was recorded during the Sgt. Pepper sessions but was not included on the album.

The song Magical Mystery Tour was recorded only four days after the Sgt. Pepper sessions ended - and along with Baby You're a Rich Man and All Together Now were finished before Sgt. Pepper was even released to the public. In fact two other songs were underway before the release of Sgt. Pepper as well, You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) and It's All Too Much. Before the release of Sgt. Pepper there was a general rumor circulating that the Beatles were washed up and having difficulty coming up with new material. The rumors could hardly have been more wrong.

The first six tracks on Magical Mystery Tour consist of songs from their TV special which were originally released as a double EP in the UK. The remaining songs were cobbled together from already released singles.

The instrumental part of The Inner Light was recorded in India during the sessions for George Harrison's Wonderwall album.

Lady Madonna was a single which seemed to signal the psychedelic era was over for the Beatles, even as other bands were still immersed in it. Whereas Across the Universe indicated John Lennon was ready for new insight in India. Hey Bulldog was recorded just days later, showing that John was still a rocker at heart.

So by my estimate when you include the songs from Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles recorded thirty-two {officially released) songs in a little over a year. Not bad at all.


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