mellotron_panel

In the studio today, the boys continued the lengthy process of recording “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Says The Beatles Bible:

The first task of the day… was to create a reduction mix, placing the various instruments onto the same track of the four-track tape.

The reduction mix was labelled take 25. Onto track two of the tape Paul McCartney then recorded a lead guitar part, and two Mellotron tape sounds were added towards the end of the song. These sounds were the “swinging flutes” and “piano riff” pieces that came with the instrument.

The Mellotron, for those unfamiliar, is a strange machine basically consisting of numerous short tape loops that mimic the sound of various instruments. Because it mimics them so poorly, however, it creates a sound that ends up being unique unto itself.

Invented in 1963, the Mellotron was originally a toy for people with disposable income. Says Wikipedia:

Among the early Mellotron owners were Princess Margaret, Peter Sellers, King Hussein of Jordan and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (whose Mellotron is now installed in the Church of Scientology’s head UK office at Saint Hill Manor).

Legend has it that The Beatles were introduced to the Mellotron by Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, and loved it so much that they immediately had to use it on their next song — which happened to be “Strawberry Fields.” George Martin, on the other hand, was not a fan; he said it sounded “as if a Neanderthal piano had impregnated a primitive electronic keyboard.”

George’s opinion notwithstanding, the Mellotron became quite popular, being used by the likes of King Crimson, Genesis, Tangerine Dream, and, later, OMD — and later still, the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Part of the appeal, I think, is the name. It’s just fun to say, or indeed to type. Mellotron.

Meanwhile, with the Beatles assembly line slowing down a little bit, EMI had decided to release a greatest hits compilation to give British Beatles fans something to spend their Christmas money on. Entitled A Collection of Beatles Oldies, it consisted of a healthy sixteen tracks:

Side A:

  • She Loves You
  • From Me to You
  • We Can Work It Out
  • Help!
  • Michelle
  • Yesterday
  • I Feel Fine
  • Yellow Submarine

Side B

  • Can’t Buy Me Love
  • Bad Boy
  • Day Tripper
  • A Hard Day’s Night
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Paperback Writer
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • I Want to Hold Your Hand

Only one song, “Bad Boy,” was previously unreleased in the UK — meaning, of course, that rabid Beatle fans would have to buy the album just to get it, even though they already owned everything else. Such is the nature of the Long Plastic Hallway. Well, truth be told, 99% of fans would have bought it anyway, just because it was new Beatles product.

Here in 2016, A Collection of Beatles Oldies is completely redundant and has never been issued on CD, though it is available on some kind of Slovenian bootleg. The original vinyl can be had fairly cheaply on the eBay, and consumer whore that I am, I’m tempted to pick it up just for the cover:

thebeatles_acollectionofbeatlesoldies-2nd-519679

I mean, that fits right in with my lifestyle, or at least the lifestyle I aspire to. And isn’t that the best reason to buy something?