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Friday, February 20, 2015

YELLOW SUBMARINE SONGTRACK - side two

Still from the film's live action sequence
Baby You're a Rich Man - This was the first song to be specifically written and recorded for the film in 1967, but after it was hastily used as a B-side to All You Need Is Love only the intro made it into the movie.  The odd-sounding clavioline is more prominent than on the 1987 Magical Mystery Tour CD (though not as prominent as on my original vinyl album), and the vocals and echoing handclaps are right up front in the mix.

Only a Northern Song - In his excellent website The Beatles Recordings, Graham Calkin notes that this collection marks the first time this Harrison number had ever been released in true stereo.  Recorded in February '67 as a contender for Sgt. Pepper, it features multiple layers of sound, made even more complex when two different takes were overlaid to create the master in April of that year.  The many components are spread across the sonic landscape for maximum listening pleasure in this new version.

All You Need Is Love - The recording which benefits the most from these new mixes is this anthem from the Summer of Love.  The original always sounded muddy due to the fact that it combined parts recorded live during the Our World broadcast on top of an already-dense backing track.  Every element is cleaned up nicely here, giving the tune a new immediacy.  Though used in an abridged form by the animators, it is central to both the action and the message of the film.

When I'm Sixty Four - My ears do not detect any significant improvement to this whimsical track from Sgt. Pepper.  This song is used in a clever sequence as the submarine travels through the Sea of Time.

Nowhere Man - The original stereo mix of this Rubber Soul track was simply vocals on one side and instruments on the other (except for George's gorgeous guitar solo).  Here we have a beautifully-centered mix with a fuller sound overall.  

It's All Too Much - Harrison's psychedelic extravaganza closes out the album in all of its sonic glory.  This six-minute-plus track actually ran over eight minutes, which explains why we hear a verse in the movie that is not available anywhere else - and the film version is still extremely truncated.

The only song missing from this collection is A Day in the Life, though only the orchestral crescendo from that track is used in the film as the submarine voyage begins.  Of course, numerous other songs by the Beatles are referenced throughout the movie in the dialogue, as when Old Fred arrives in Liverpool and calls out, "Won't you please, please help me?"

Many purists were upset by the remixing when this package was first released in 1999, but they seem to have misunderstood that these mixes were done for the soundtrack and were never intended to replace those in the band's official catalog.  They merely offer an interesting alternative to the recordings we've known for all these years.  

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