Yellow Submarine (album)

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For the 1999 release, see Yellow Submarine Songtrack.
Yellow Submarine
Studio album / soundtrack by The Beatles and George Martin
Released 17 January 1969
Recorded 26 May 1966 – 11 February 1968 (The Beatles) & 22–23 October 1968 (George Martin),
EMI and De Lane Lea studios, London
Genre Side 1 – Psychedelic rock
Side 2 – Orchestral
Length 40:12
Label Apple
Producer George Martin
The Beatles chronology
The Beatles
(1968)
Yellow Submarine
(1969)
Abbey Road
(1969)

Yellow Submarine is the tenth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 17 January 1969. It was issued as the soundtrack to the animated film of the same name, which premiered in London in July 1968. The album contains six songs by the Beatles, of which "Yellow Submarine" and "All You Need Is Love" had previously been released as singles. The remainder of the album was a re-recording of the film's orchestral soundtrack by the band's producer, George Martin.

The project was regarded as a contractual obligation by the Beatles, who were asked to supply four new songs for the film. Some songs were written and recorded specifically for the soundtrack, while others were unreleased tracks from other projects. The album had a mixed reception with critics, who felt some material was dated and not up to the usual standard set by the Beatles, though Martin's orchestral work was generally praised. Although not generally thought of as a major release, the album is still considered part of the canon of Beatles LPs. It reached the top 5 in the UK and the US, and has been reissued on compact disc several times.

Background and recording[edit]

Side two of the album contained George Martin's orchestral score for the film, leading with Pepperland

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The album arose from contractual obligations for the Beatles to supply new songs to the soundtrack to United Artists' animated film Yellow Submarine.[1] Having recently completed their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in April 1967,[2] the group showed minimal enthusiasm for the project.[3] Along with the music for their Magical Mystery Tour TV film, the Yellow Submarine soundtrack was part of a period that author Ian MacDonald later described as the band's "regime of continuous low-intensity recording ... it had a workaday quality about it – an intrinsic lack of tension which was bound to colour the resulting material."[4]

Only one side of the album contains songs performed by the Beatles; of the six, four were previously unreleased. "Yellow Submarine" had been issued in August 1966 as a single, topping the UK chart for four weeks,[5] and had also been released on the album Revolver.[6] "All You Need Is Love" had been issued as a single in July 1967.[7]

Of the unreleased songs, the first to be recorded was George Harrison's "Only a Northern Song", during the sessions for Sgt. Pepper. It was taped in February 1967 but subsequently discarded, along with some other unfinished Harrison compositions.[8] It was originally titled "Not Known" and the lyrics were a cynical view over Harrison being merely a contracted songwriter to the Beatles' publishing company, Northern Songs.[9]

"All Together Now" was recorded in a single session on 12 May 1967, specifically for the film project.[10] The title came from a phrase Paul McCartney had heard as a child, to encourage everyone to sing music hall songs. He later described the song as "a throwaway".[11]

The band recorded Harrison's "It's All Too Much" in late May 1967. The Beatles had unlimited studio time to experiment and record whatever songs came to hand at Abbey Road, but this session took place at De Lane Lea Studios.[12] The original take ran for over 8 minutes, and Harrison briefly quoted a line from the Merseys' 1966 song "Sorrow".[13]

John Lennon's "Hey Bulldog" was recorded on 11 February 1968 and evolved from an initial intent to shoot a promotional film for the single "Lady Madonna". Like "All Together Now", it was specifically recorded with the film soundtrack in mind.[14] The track's ending featured a jam session after the point where a fade-out was intended in the final mix, which was kept in the finished version.[15][a]

Side two features a re-recording of the symphonic film score composed by Martin, specifically for the album. The recording took place with a 41-piece orchestra over two three-hour sessions on 22 and 23 October 1968 in Abbey Road, and edited down to the length on the LP on 22 November.[17] Martin's arrangement quoted from his earlier work for the Beatles; for example, "Sea of Time" includes a brief extract of a melody from "Within You Without You" from Sgt Pepper.[18]

Release[edit]

The film received its worldwide premiere in London in July 1968,[19] by which time the Beatles were busy working on their eponymous double album, The Beatles, known as the White Album.[3] Ultimately, the Beatles were enthusiastic about the finished film, and did more to associate themselves with it after release.[20][21] Having been delayed so that it would not clash with the release of The Beatles,[3] Yellow Submarine was issued by Apple Records on 13 January 1969 in the US and on 17 January in the UK.[22] It was only released in stereo in the US, while the UK album was available in both stereo and mono, although the mono version is simply a fold-down (a combination of two stereo channels to one mono) rather than a specific mix.[17] The mono LP does not include the original mix of "Only a Northern Song" and instead includes a fold-down of the version that appeared on the stereo LP.[23]

Since "All You Need Is Love" had been rush-released a single, it did not have an official stereo mix.[16] Although the track was released on the US LP Magical Mystery Tour, an official stereo mix of the track was not made until on 29 October 1968 for the album.[16] In the US, 8-track tape versions featured "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" as an extra song on side two.[24]

Artwork[edit]

The artwork on the sleeve contains a drawing of the Beatles as featured on trailer posters, created by Heinz Edelman. The same basic design was used for the UK and US covers, though the UK jacket contains the words "Nothing is Real" (taken from "Strawberry Fields Forever") just below the album's title,[25] while the US version did not.[26]

On the back of the cover, the UK album contained a review of the White Album written for The Observer by Tony Palmer. The review was introduced by a few liner notes by Apple press officer Derek Taylor.[27] The US cover contained a fictitious illustrated biography by Dan Davis of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in which the ensemble's battle with the Blue Meanies was compared to three other epic struggles in the history of the English-speaking world: Beowulf's struggle to save the Heorot mead hall, King John's signing of the Magna Carta and Thomas Jefferson's writing of the Declaration of Independence.[26][28]

Unreleased EP[edit]

After mixed response to the album upon release, the Beatles considered releasing Yellow Submarine as a five-track mono EP without the film score but including the then-unreleased "Across the Universe" as a bonus track. The EP was mastered but never released.[17] The Beatles had previously released popular songs from their LPs as EPs in the English market. The original running order for the EP was "Only a Northern Song", "Hey Bulldog" and "Across the Universe" on side one, with "All Together Now" and "It's All Too Much" on side two.[17]

Reissues[edit]

The first compact disc release, remastered by George Martin, appeared in 1987. It is consistent with the English version of the LP. The running order is the same with "Sea of Time" and "Sea of Holes" as separate tracks, the "Nothing Is Real" subtitle remains intact and the review of the White Album with Taylor's introduction is included inside the CD insert.[29]

The album appeared in a revised version on 13 September 1999, coinciding with the remastered re-release of the film. Called the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, it dispenses with the George Martin orchestrations, and includes the six Beatles songs from the original album, along with an additional nine songs, all completely remixed for this disc.[30]

It was re-released a decade later for a third time, along with the rest of the Beatles' catalogue, on 9 September 2009. This release duplicated the original album, and included both UK and US sleeve notes.[31] The mono mixes of the four songs that were intended for the unreleased EP (along with "Across the Universe") were released for the first time on the Mono Masters collection as part of the box set The Beatles in Mono.[32][33]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[34]
The A.V. Club C–[35]
Consequence of Sound 3.5/5 stars[36]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 2/5 stars[37]
Pitchfork Media 6.2/10[38]
The Rolling Stone Record Guide 2/5 stars[39]

In contrast to how the film was received, Yellow Submarine is not generally considered a significant release.[3] It was one of the few Beatles releases that did not top the charts in either the United Kingdom or the United States, peaking at number 3 and number 2 respectively.[3] In Canada, it topped the RPM national albums chart for two weeks, ending the 12-week run The Beatles held at number 1.[40] In America, it was kept from the top by the same album, which had been released two months before.[41]

Among reviews on release, Beat Instrumental bemoaned the paucity of new material by the band on Yellow Submarine before adding: "However, be not of bad cheer. The George Martin score to the film is really very nice, and two tracks by George Harrison redeem the first side. Both ... are superb pieces, considerably more enthralling than the most draggy All Together Now, a rather wet track." In a review for International Times, Barry Miles considered Martin's score "superbly produced" and, of the songs, wrote only of "It's All Too Much", which he described as "Endless, mantric, a round, interwoven, trellised, tessellated, filigreed, gidouiled, spiralling" and "Happy singalong music".[42]

More recently, AllMusic critic Richie Unterberger has written of Yellow Submarine: "The album would have been far better value if it had been released as a four-song EP ... with the addition of a bonus track in "Across the Universe" ... No one would argue that there's a huge amount more than meets the eye (or ear) there, but listening to the original album anew 40 years on, one is still struck by how mostly second-rate, and recycled and rejected Beatles material still sounds so good."[34] Writing for Pitchfork Media, Mark Richardson opines that "the Yellow Submarine soundtrack is like the work of a supremely talented band that couldn't really be bothered" and describes "Hey Bulldog" as "a tough and funky piano-driven rocker, [and] by a good margin the best song here". Richardson concludes: "But as an album it's ultimately forgettable, which is something the Beatles so rarely were otherwise."[38]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, except where noted. 

Side one: Songs from the film
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Yellow Submarine" (originally a 1966 single, and on Revolver) Starr 2:40
2. "Only a Northern Song" (George Harrison) Harrison 3:24
3. "All Together Now"   McCartney, with Lennon 2:11
4. "Hey Bulldog"   Lennon, with McCartney 3:11
5. "It's All Too Much" (Harrison) Harrison 6:25
6. "All You Need Is Love" (originally a 1967 single, included on the US version of Magical Mystery Tour) Lennon 3:51

All songs written and composed by George Martin, except where noted. 

Side two: Orchestral film score
No. Title Length
1. "Pepperland"   2:21
2. "Sea of Time"   3:00
3. "Sea of Holes"   2:17
4. "Sea of Monsters"   3:37
5. "March of the Meanies"   2:22
6. "Pepperland Laid Waste"   2:19
7. "Yellow Submarine in Pepperland" (Lennon-McCartney, arranged by Martin) 2:13

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[43] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[45] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.[46]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ "Baby, You're a Rich Man" was also originally intended for the film soundtrack, but was released as the B-side to "All You Need Is Love" instead and was not included on the Yellow Submarine album.[16]
Citations
  1. ^ Hertsgaard 1996, pp. 223–24, 228.
  2. ^ Miles 2001, p. 263.
  3. ^ a b c d e Glynn 2013, p. 133.
  4. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 222.
  5. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 386.
  6. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 183.
  7. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 229.
  8. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 209.
  9. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 97.
  10. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 227.
  11. ^ Miles 1997, p. 481.
  12. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 228.
  13. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 112.
  14. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 243.
  15. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 134.
  16. ^ a b c Everett 1999, p. 126.
  17. ^ a b c d Lewisohn 1988, p. 164.
  18. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 215.
  19. ^ Miles 2001, p. 303.
  20. ^ Womack & Davis 2012, p. 105.
  21. ^ Hertsgaard 1996, p. 228.
  22. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 406.
  23. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 163.
  24. ^ Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol / EMI. 1969. 8XW-153. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Guerin, Christopher (11 November 2009). "Nothing is Real: The Beatles 'Yellow Submarine'". PopMatters. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  26. ^ a b Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol. 1969. SW-153. 
  27. ^ Womack 2009, p. 114.
  28. ^ "Dan Davis". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  29. ^ Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol / EMI. 1987. CDP 7 464452. 
  30. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Yellow Submarine Songtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "Yellow Submarine". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  32. ^ "Mono Masters – The Beatles". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  33. ^ Kozinn, Allan (2 September 2009). "Long and Winding Road, Newly Repaved". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  34. ^ a b Yellow Submarine (album) at AllMusic
  35. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (8 September 2009). "Chuck Klosterman Repeats The Beatles". Chicago: The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  36. ^ "Album Review: The Beatles – Yellow Submarine [Remastered]". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  37. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). Encyclopedia of Popular Music 1. Muze. p. 489. ISBN 0-19-531373-9. 
  38. ^ a b "Yellow Submarine". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  39. ^ Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John (1979). The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1st ed.). Random House/Rolling Stone Press. p. 27. 
  40. ^ "Library and Archives Canada". 
  41. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, pp. 70, 73, 360.
  42. ^ Doggett, Peter (2003). "Underwater Treasure". Mojo: The Beatles' Final Years Special Edition (EMAP): 78. 
  43. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Beatles – Yellow Submarine". Music Canada. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  44. ^ "British album certifications – The Beatles – Yellow Submarine". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 15 September 2013.  Enter Yellow Submarine in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  45. ^ "American album certifications – Beatles, The – Yellow Submarine". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 15 September 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  46. ^ "Beatles albums finally go platinum". British Phonographic Industry (BBC News). 2 September 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
Sources

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by
The Beatles (White Album) by The Beatles
Canadian RPM 100 number-one album
17–24 March 1969 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
Blood, Sweat & Tears by Blood, Sweat & Tears