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Friday, December 18, 2015

Yellow Submarine

Like the two Get Back albums compiled by Glyn Johns, a Yellow Submarine EP was never released but, according to Mark Lewisohn in The Beatles: Recording Sessions, a master tape for just such an item was sitting in the archives of Abbey Road Studios at the time Lewisohn did his research for his book in the 1980's.  What was the story behind this forgotten compilation?  

When the soundtrack LP Yellow Submarine appeared in January of 1969, fans had every right to be disappointed.  Many were upset that side two of the record simply contained orchestrations by George Martin, though this was actually just a variation on what United Artists and Capitol Records had done for the American versions of A Hard Day's Night and Help! respectively.  Most upsetting was the fact that there were only four new songs by the Beatles sandwiched between the obligatory title song and the July '67 A-side All You Need Is Love which factored prominently in the film.

The Beatles were sensitive to this criticism and once again (as with Magical Mystery Tour) decided to revive the EP format in an attempt to appease their fans.  Lewisohn records that on March 13th, Abbey Road employee Edward Gadsby-Toni compiled and banded a master tape with the following line-up:


Only a Northern Song
Hey Bulldog
Across the Universe


All Together Now
It's All Too Much

As you can see, the tape not only includes the four "new" songs from the film soundtrack but a bonus track, as well - Lennon's Across the Universe which was still unreleased at this point in time.  In order to accommodate the length of the songs, the EP was designed to play at the LP speed of 33 & 1/3rpm instead of the usual 45rpm of a standard 7" record.

Had this been issued in place of the album, it certainly would have been sufficient, but to release it after most fans had already bought the LP probably would have resulted in even more criticism despite the presence of a bonus track.  Wisely, the decision was made to keep it on the shelf.

The only downside of this was that Across the Universe remained unreleased at that time.  It would be fascinating to hear that version, however, as it is most likely the only version to feature all of the original instrumentation and all of the voices played at the original speed before George Martin, Glyn Johns and Phil Spector began toying with the track in different ways.


  1. any links to hear it ?

  2. I could be wrong, but to my knowledge only Abbey Road employees have ever had access to it.