Since the post about the individual tracks that comprise the Rolling Stones’ classic “Gimme Shelter” went over so well, here’s another in a similar vein, a track by track breakdown of “Helter Skelter” by the Beatles.
This is probably as close as it is possible to be in the recording studio with the Beatles during the White Album sessions in 1968. Record producer Chris Thomas, then a “tea boy”/intern at EMI Studios, later said of this session: “While Paul was doing his vocal, George Harrison had set fire to an ashtray and was running around the studio with it above his head, doing an “Arthur Brown.”
If you’re really bored you can open them all up in different windows and try to sync ‘em up…
First McCartney’s frenzied vocal. Superb! How do you improve on something like this? You don’t because It’s fucking perfection. “It’s coming down fast….!”
Next up the first guitar track. Many previously unheard nuances, both here and in the scratchy-sounding secondary guitar layer below. At times it sounds like it’s Kurt Cobain playing guitar, not George Harrison or Paul McCartney (who plays lead guitar here).
It’s actually John Lennon on bass here. So primitive sounding in comparison to McCartney’s nimble bass-lines.
Finally the drums. Yet another example of how very fine a drummer Ringo is, what else is there to say? Ringo Starr said of this session: “‘Helter Skelter’ was a track we did in total madness and hysterics in the studio. Sometimes you just had to shake out the jams.”
Thank you Tara McGinley!