Results for Abbey Road

interviews

Geoff Emerick

Geoff Geoff Emerick was in the right place at the right time- starting a job at Abbey Road Studios just days before The Beatles recorded "Love Me Do." By the time they began recording Revolver, Emerick had been promoted to engineer. It was up to him to make John, Paul, George and Ringo's creative dreams a reality in the studio, a challenge Emerick recounted in his 2006 book, Here, There and Everywhere. He went on to work on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, part of The White Album and Abbey Road.

Beyond The Beatles, Emerick worked with Art Garfunkel, Elvis Costello, Jeff Beck, Michael Jackson, The Zombies, Cheap Trick, Stevie Wonder and Wings. Emerick died October 2, 2018 at 72 years old.

We revisit Jim and Greg's conversation with Emerick from 2006.

For more from Emerick and his work with the Beatles, listen to our classic album dissection of Revolver.

Go to episode 672
specials

1967

Not to make you feel old, but it's been 45 years since the "Summer of Love," the year of the hippie, and some of the most influential music in rock history. So Jim and Greg have decided to look back at the watershed year 1967. Television viewers were treated to memorable performances by The Who, The Doors and The Rolling Stones. Aretha Franklin recorded her famous Atlantic release "Respect." Fans from around the country gathered in California for the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. But during this episode Jim and Greg focus on the single LP's that changed the way people thought of the studio and a collection of songs. 1967 gave birth to the idea of album as art.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band is, of course, the most prominent example of studio innovation on album in '67. Recorded at Abbey Road by George Martin on mono, stereo and four-track recorders, Sgt. Pepper's was a critical and commercial success. But, as they stated during our Revolver Classic Album Dissection, Jim and Greg don‘t think it’s The Beatles‘ best. Nor is it the best album of that year. They’d point people to the landmark recordings The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd, Forever Changes by Love and The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground. Jim and Greg talk about these albums' innovations in terms of recording and artistic ambition. They also hear from Joe Boyd, who produced Pink Floyd's first single in 1967 and Jac Holzman, who discovered Love and signed them to Elektra.

Go to episode 323
classic album dissections
RevolverRevolver available on iTunes

The Beatles Revolver

Revolver recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. To honor that, our own rock scientists, Drs. DeRogatis and Kot, decided to dissect The Beatles' masterpiece. In their discussion, as well as in their interview with Geoff Emerick, the man who engineered the album at Abbey Road, you‘ll hear an in-depth breakdown of what made the music so revolutionary. Here’s a sampling of fun-facts and analysis listeners will hear about the different tracks:

Tomorrow Never Knows

The last song on Revolver was actually the first one written. In December 1965, after a mind-expanding acid trip, John Lennon wrote what would later become "Tomorrow Never Knows." The completely unique four-track song, with its organ drones, backward guitar, bird calls, and megaphone vocals, perfectly encapsulates what Revolver was about: revolution. Two interesting points come up in Jim and Greg's discussion with Geoff Emerick about Lennon's lack of technical prowess. Not being able to really communicate how he wanted his vocals to sound technically, he simply asked Emerick to have his voice sound like monks singing on the top of a mountain. Also, the backwards guitar part was merely a happy accident. Lennon, not knowing how to run a reel-to-reel machine, simply loaded the tape backwards and liked what he heard.

Rain

The interesting thing about "Rain" is that it wasn't even released as part of the original Revolver album. It was the B-side of a single (paired with "Paperback Writer") that was recorded during the same session. EMI expected the Beatles to write and record not only an amazing album, but hit singles as well. Jim recommends fans burn their own complete Revolver with the addition of these singles.

Yellow Submarine

Geoff Emerick's description of recording "Yellow Submarine" is one of the most entertaining in his book. The session was attended by a raucous group of notable guests including Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithful and Patti Harrison. In the middle of recording Lennon decided that he wanted to sound like he was singing underwater, and in fact, suggested that he do just that. Out of desperation, the engineer relented and agreed to try it with the microphone placed in a milk bottle filled with water. In order to protect the microphone he used a condom provided by longtime Beatles roadie Mal Evans.

Eleanor Rigby

Emerick was really innovative in how he recorded different instruments. This is particularly evident on this song, written by Paul McCartney, which incorporates an eight-piece string section. In fact, none of The Beatles actually played on "Eleanor Rigby." In order to get the best possible sound, Emerick placed the microphones just inches away from the two violas, two cellos and four violins. Beatles fans are so used to hearing this song so it's hard to imagine what it would be like to experience it for the first time in 1966 on the same record with more traditional sounding rock songs like "Good Day Sunshine" and "Got to Get You Into My Life."

Taxman

Revolver marks significant growth in the band's sound, as well as for the individual Beatles. George Harrison really matured as a songwriter during the recording of this album, which has an unprecedented three songs written by him, as opposed to chief songwriters Lennon and McCartney. While Harrison is often thought of as the more transcendental Beatle, Jim notes that "Taxman" expresses a very normal, earthy concern: paying taxes. While, Harrison grew as a songwriter, Emerick admits that he still struggled with the guitar during some of the recording of this album. After wrestling for almost nine hours with the famous“Taxman”guitar solo, the part ended up being handed over to Paul McCartney, who hit it in one take.

Go to episode 117
Revolver

The Beatles Revolver

Later this summer Revolver will celebrate its 40th anniversary. To honor that occasion, our own rock scientists, Drs. DeRogatis and Kot, decided to dissect The Beatles' masterpiece. In their interview with Geoff Emerick, the man who engineered the album at Abbey Road, and wrote a memoir on his time with the band, they break down what made the music so revolutionary. A sampling of the fun facts and analysis:

Tomorrow Never Knows

The last song on Revolver was actually the first one written. In December 1965, after a mind-expanding acid trip, John Lennon wrote what would later become "Tomorrow Never Knows." The completely unique four-track song, with its organ drones, backward guitar, bird calls, and megaphone vocals, perfectly encapsulates what Revolver was about: revolution. Geoff Emerick shares two facts about Lennon's lack of technical prowess. First, not being able to communicate how he wanted his vocals to sound technically, Lennon simply asked Emerick to have his voice sound like monks singing on a mountaintop. Also, the backwards guitar part was a happy accident. Lennon, not knowing how to run a reel-to-reel machine, simply loaded the tape backwards and liked what he heard.

Rain

The interesting thing about this song is that it wasn't even released as part of the original Revolver album. It was the B-side of a single (paired with "Paperback Writer") that was recorded during the same session. EMI expected The Beatles to write and record not only an amazing album, but hit singles as well. Jim recommends fans burn their own complete Revolver with the addition of these singles.

Yellow Submarine

Geoff Emerick's description of recording "Yellow Submarine" is one of the most entertaining in his book. The session was attended by a raucous group of notable guests including Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull and Patti Harrison. In the middle of recording, Lennon decided that he wanted to sound like he was singing underwater, and in fact, suggested that he do just that. Out of desperation, the engineer agreed to try it, and placed the microphone in a milk bottle filled with water. In order to protect the microphone he used a condom provided by longtime Beatles roadie Mal Evans.

Eleanor Rigby

Emerick was really innovative in how he recorded different instruments. This is particularly evident on this song, written by Paul McCartney, which incorporates an eight-piece string section. In fact, none of the Beatles actually played on "Eleanor Rigby." In order to get the best possible sound, Emerick placed the microphones just inches away from the two violas, two cellos and four violins. Beatles fans are so used to this song that it's hard to imagine what it would be like to experience it for the first time in 1966, let alone on the same record as traditional-sounding rock songs like "Good Day Sunshine" and "Got to Get You Into My Life".

Taxman

Revolver marks significant growth in the band's sound, as well as for the individual Beatles. George Harrison really matured as a songwriter on this album, which has an unprecedented three songs written by him, as opposed to chief songwriters Lennon and McCartney. While Harrison is often thought of as the more transcendental Beatle, Jim notes that "Taxman" expresses a very normal, earthly concern: paying taxes. While Harrison grew as a songwriter, Emerick admits that he still struggled with the guitar during some of the recording of this album. After wrestling for almost nine hours with the song's famous guitar solo, the part ended up being handed over to Paul McCartney, who hit it in on the first take.

Go to episode 25
news

Music News

Even decades after their heyday, there continues to be new, fun factoids in Beatles history. One of their old concert contracts from 1965 recently sold at auction for $23,000. But the contents were even more amazing. The Fab Four state that they will“not be required to perform in front of a segregated audience.”That was pretty radical for the time, and confirms the band's feelings about civil rights. Incidentally, Ringo also was contractually obligated to receive a special drumming platform.

In other Beatles news, Abbey Road, the famed British studio where they recorded, is making attempts to stay vital in this age of laptop studios. For $800 you can send your own tracks into Abbey Road to have them mixed by professionals. All they require is a little guidance - are you going for The Clash? Or Barbra Streisand? In addition, they've launched an Abbey Road board game centered around the iconic zebra stripe road crossing.

Go to episode 304

Music News

Following up on their 2011 music business report last week, Jim and Greg are happy to announce that vinyl album sales continue to be healthy. For the third year in a row, Abbey Roadwas the top-selling vinyl album. But nostalgia isn't the only thing pushing record sales. New artists like Mumford and Sons, Bon Iver and The Black Keys also had top selling vinyl products. Jim and Greg are pleased to know that music fans continue to have affection for this format, especially in a year when digital music sales finally topped physical ones.

Coachella, the first of the big music festivals of the season, announced its upcoming lineup. During not one, but two weekends in the California desert, attendees can see performances by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Radiohead, The Black Keys and Jeff Mangum. But they'll miss out on a reported Black Sabbath reunion due to guitarist Tony Iommi's recent cancer diagnosis.

Our last bit of news proves that when it comes to the life of a musician, not a whole lot has changed in two centuries. A letter written by composer Ludwig van Beethoven has emerged in Germany valued at over $128,000. In what the BBC describes as six pages of“scrawled corrections,”Beethoven complains about his ailments, and like many a rocker today, a lack of money.

Go to episode 320

Music News

The 2006 Nielsen Soundscan midyear report came out this week, and some of its findings are surprising. While the buzz seems to be that the music industry is being killed by digital music sales, which increased by 77% from 2005, albums are only down by 4.2%. So Jim and Greg aren‘t consoling record executives just yet. The more significant revelation? The disconnect between what critics enjoy and what people buy may be even greater than previously thought. The number-one selling album of the year so far is not by a venerated rock artist or a hip-hop star — rather, it’s the soundtrack to High School Musical, a Disney made-for-TV movie. The tween phenomenon shows how young girls still have much of the buying power in the industry. Coming in second is country/pop act Rascal Flatts. And a further scan of the list reveals that Jim and Greg were only compelled to review two of the records on it: Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough and Taking the Long Way by the Dixie Chicks. Hopefully that trends turn around in the months to come. Otherwise Jim and Greg will have to score that interview with Zac after all…

Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett died this week at his home in Cambridge, England. Barrett started the band, which he named after two American bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, in 1965. After releasing The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (which was recorded at Abbey Road the same year as the other British psychedelic hallmark, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band), Barrett became a superstar. However, as Jim and Greg explain, this natural frontman shunned the spotlight. Barrett became a heavy LSD user and was likely suffering from schizophrenia. By 1968 he was forced to leave the band. He subsequently made two solo albums, but eventually went into virtual exile. Yet his influence on the band, and on future musicians, remained strong, as bandmate Nick Mason tells Jim. Mason, like all Pink Floyd fans, understood what a talent Barrett was and wished he had intervened to prevent such a tragic end. Still, Barrett's legacy lives on through his music. Listen to "Baby Lemonade," one of Barrett's last performances with members of Pink Floyd, as well as David Bowie's cover of "See Emily Play."

Go to episode 33