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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 13 January 1969 (US)
17 January 1969 (UK)
Recorded 26 May 1966 – 11 February 1968 (The Beatles)
22–23 October 1968 (George Martin)
Studio EMI and De Lane Lea studios, London
Genre Psychedelic rock, orchestral
Length 40:12
Label Apple
Producer George Martin
The Beatles chronology
The Beatles
Yellow Submarine
Abbey Road

Yellow Submarine is the tenth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 13 January 1969 in the United States and on 17 January 1969 in the United Kingdom. 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, including four new songs and the previously released "Yellow Submarine" (1966) and "All You Need Is Love" (1967). 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 was issued two months after the band's self-titled double LP (also known as the "White Album") and was therefore not viewed by the band as a significant release. Yellow Submarine has since been afforded a mixed reception from music critics, some of whom consider that it falls short of the high standard generally associated with the Beatles' work. It reached the top 5 in the UK and the US, and has been reissued on compact disc several times.

Background and recording[edit]

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]

Soundtrack songs[edit]

There was a commitment for The Beatles to do four songs for the film. Apparently, they would say, this is a lousy song, let's give it to Brodax.[5]

Al Brodax, producer of the Yellow Submarine film

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,[6] and had also been released on the album Revolver.[7] Following the Beatles' performance of the song on the Our World international television broadcast,[8] "All You Need Is Love" had also been issued as a single, in July 1967.[9]

Of the unreleased tracks, the first to be recorded was George Harrison's "Only a Northern Song", taped in February 1967 but rejected for inclusion on Sgt. Pepper.[10] The group performed overdubs on this basic track in April, immediately after completing the stereo mixes for that album. Among the sounds added during what Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn describes as "a curious session", were trumpet, glockenspiel[11] and spoken voices.[12][a] Harrison's lyrics reflect his displeasure at being merely a contracted songwriter to the Beatles' publishing company, Northern Songs.[15]

"All Together Now" was recorded in a single session on 12 May 1967, specifically for the film project.[16] 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".[17]

The band recorded Harrison's "It's All Too Much" in late May 1967 at De Lane Lea Studios in central London.[18] Inspired by its author's experimentation with the drug LSD, and originally running to over eight minutes in length,[19] the song reflects the Summer of Love philosophy of 1967 and makes extensive use of guitar feedback.[20] As with the later recorded "All You Need Is Love", the track includes musical and lyrical quotations from other works – in this case, a trumpet passage from Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March" and a lyric from the Merseys' 1966 hit "Sorrow".[21]

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.[22] 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.[23][b] Lennon later described the song as "a good-sounding record that means nothing".[25][26]

George Martin orchestrations[edit]

Side two features a re-recording of the symphonic film score composed by the Beatles' producer, George 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.[27]

In some of his arrangements, Martin referenced his past work with the Beatles; for example, "Sea of Time" includes what MacDonald terms "an affectionate quotation" from the Indian-styled "Within You Without You", from Sgt. Pepper,[28] and "Yellow Submarine in Pepperland" reprises the film's title track.[29] In "Sea of Monsters", Martin adapted part of Bach's Air on the G String, while in other selections he parodies works by Stravinsky.[30]


The film received its worldwide premiere in London in July 1968,[31] by which time the Beatles were busy working on their eponymous double album, The Beatles, commonly called "the White Album".[3] Ultimately, the Beatles were enthusiastic about the finished film, and did more to associate themselves with it after release.[32][33] Having been delayed so that it would not clash with the release of The Beatles,[3] and to allow for the re-recording of Martin's contributions,[27] Yellow Submarine was issued by Apple Records on 13 January 1969 in the US and on 17 January in the UK.[34] The album was issued in stereo only 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 into one mono) rather than a specific mix.[27] Since "All You Need Is Love" had been rush-released a single, it did not have an official stereo mix.[24] Although the track was released on the US LP Magical Mystery Tour, an official stereo mix of the track was not made until 29 October 1968 for the album.[24] In the US, 8-track tape versions featured "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" as an extra song on side two.[35]


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,[36] while the US version did not.[37]

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.[38] 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.[37][39]

Unreleased EP[edit]

An EP containing the new songs had been considered for release in September 1968,[40] but any plan to issue the soundtrack music from Yellow Submarine was then postponed to allow for the White Album's unveiling.[41][3] Following the delayed release of the soundtrack album, however, Lewisohn writes that the Beatles were "mildly criticised" for having ceded a full LP side to Martin's music and thereby failing to provide their customary "excellent value-for-money". As a result, the band considered issuing Yellow Submarine as a five-track mono EP, without the film score but including the then-unreleased "Across the Universe" as a bonus track. This EP was mastered in March 1969 but never issued.[27] 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.[27]

Lennon later dismissed Martin's contributions as "all this terrible shit" and blamed Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, for allowing Martin to participate in the project.[42] According to author and music journalist Peter Doggett, neither the proposed EP format nor an expanded soundtrack album (containing other previously issued Beatles songs that appear in the 1968 film) was possible at the time, since "both options would have denied George Martin his contractual right to appear alongside The Beatles – and robbed him of potentially the largest royalty payment of his career."[43]


The first compact disc release appeared in August 1987.[44] 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.[45]

The album appeared in a revised version on 13 September 1999, coinciding with the remastered re-release of the film. Titled 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.[46]

The original album was remastered and reissued, along with the rest of the Beatles' catalogue, on 9 September 2009. This release included both the UK and US sleeve notes.[47] 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.[48][49]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[50]
The A.V. Club C–[51]
Consequence of Sound C+[52]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 2/5 stars[53]
Pitchfork Media 6.2/10[54]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2.5/5 stars[55]

In contrast to the animated film, Yellow Submarine was not generally considered to be a significant release.[3] Issued two months after The Beatles,[56] it was one of the few Beatles releases that failed to top the charts in either the United Kingdom or the United States, peaking instead at number 3 and number 2, respectively.[3] In Canada, Yellow Submarine topped the RPM national albums chart for two weeks, ending the White Album's 12-week run at number 1.[57] On America's Billboard Top LPs chart, it was kept from the top by the same album.[58]

Recalling the release in a special-edition issue of Mojo magazine, Peter Doggett writes that "The papers got all trippy for Yellow Submarine".[30] Beat Instrumental bemoaned the paucity of new material by the band, but added: "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 [songs] 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, variously, "Endless, mantric, a round, interwoven, trellised, tessellated, filigreed, gidouiled, spiralling" and "Happy singalong music".[30] Writing in their book The Beatles: An Illustrated Record (1975), NME critics Roy Carr and Tony Tyler bemoaned the commercial considerations that resulted in a full soundtrack album, saying that the four new songs "would have made a superb EP".[59]

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."[50] 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."[54]

PopMatters' David Gassman views Martin's selections as "kind of twee and inconsequential" and the four new songs on side one as "fascinating", adding that "The material's tossed-off origins give it a character unlike any other Beatles album." While noting that the soundtrack was superseded with the 1999 release of Yellow Submarine Songtrack, Gassman writes: "No matter how you get them, though, the otherwise unavailable songs on this album ought to be part of any thinking Beatles fan's collection."[60] Alex Young of Consequence of Sound writes: "as a whole, Yellow Submarine is a delightful album, even if it's still a less-than-acceptable inclusion in the Beatles canon", though he criticised the inclusion of Martin's score, which he felt should have been sold as a separate release.[52]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Lennon-McCartney, except "Only a Northern Song" and "It's All Too Much", by George Harrison

Side one: Songs from the film
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Yellow Submarine"   Starr 2:40
2. "Only a Northern Song"   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 6:25
6. "All You Need Is Love"   Lennon[61] 3:51

All tracks written by George Martin, except "Yellow Submarine in Pepperland", by Lennon-McCartney

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"   2:13


The Beatles (side one)
  • John Lennon – lead and backing vocals, rhythm and lead guitars, piano, ukulele, banjo, harpsichord, handclaps
  • Paul McCartney – lead and backing vocals, bass and acoustic guitars, double bass, trumpet, handclaps, percussion
  • George Harrison – lead and backing vocals, lead and acoustic guitars, Hammond organ, percussion and handclaps, violin
  • Ringo Starr – drums, percussion and handclaps, backing vocals, lead vocals (on track 1)


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[62] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[63] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[64] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

dagger BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.[65]


Chart Position
Australian Kent Music Report[66] 4
Canadian RPM Top LPs[67] 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart[68] 5
Norwegian Albums Chart[69] 1
UK Albums Chart[70] 3
US Billboard Top LPs[71] 2


  1. ^ Acknowledging his limited ability on the trumpet,[13] Paul McCartney recalled seeing "some very sad faces" among the film's producers, who were attending the session.[14]
  2. ^ "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.[24]


  1. ^ Hertsgaard 1996, pp. 223–24, 228.
  2. ^ Miles 2001, p. 263.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Glynn 2013, p. 133.
  4. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 222.
  5. ^ Collis 1999, p. 53.
  6. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 386.
  7. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 183.
  8. ^ Hertsgaard 1996, pp. 223–25.
  9. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 229.
  10. ^ Everett 1999, pp. 127, 160.
  11. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 109.
  12. ^ Maginnis, Tom. "The Beatles 'Only a Northern Song'". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  13. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 292.
  14. ^ Collis 1999, p. 55.
  15. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 97.
  16. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 227.
  17. ^ Miles 1997, p. 481.
  18. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 112.
  19. ^ Everett 1999, pp. 127, 338.
  20. ^ Schaffner 1978, p. 99.
  21. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 228.
  22. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 243.
  23. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 134.
  24. ^ a b c Everett 1999, p. 126.
  25. ^ The Beatles 2000, pp. 292–93.
  26. ^ "81 – 'Hey Bulldog'". 100 Greatest Beatle Songs. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  27. ^ a b c d e Lewisohn 1988, p. 164.
  28. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 215.
  29. ^ Miles 2001, p. 330.
  30. ^ a b c Doggett 2003, p. 78.
  31. ^ Miles 2001, p. 303.
  32. ^ Womack & Davis 2012, p. 105.
  33. ^ Hertsgaard 1996, p. 228.
  34. ^ MacDonald 1997, p. 406.
  35. ^ Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol / EMI. 1969. 8XW-153. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  36. ^ Guerin, Christopher (11 November 2009). "Nothing is Real: The Beatles 'Yellow Submarine'". PopMatters. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  37. ^ a b Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol. 1969. SW-153. 
  38. ^ Inglis 2009, p. 114.
  39. ^ "Dan Davis". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  40. ^ Everett 1999, p. 161.
  41. ^ Doggett 2003, pp. 76–77.
  42. ^ Doggett 2003, pp. 76, 78.
  43. ^ Doggett 2003, p. 79.
  44. ^ Womack 2014, p. 1028.
  45. ^ Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol / EMI. 1987. CDP 7 464452. 
  46. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Yellow Submarine Songtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  47. ^ "Yellow Submarine". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  48. ^ "Mono Masters – The Beatles". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  49. ^ Kozinn, Allan (2 September 2009). "Long and Winding Road, Newly Repaved". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  50. ^ a b Yellow Submarine at AllMusic
  51. ^ 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. 
  52. ^ a b Young, Alex (25 September 2009). "Album Review: The Beatles – Yellow Submarine [Remastered]". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  53. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 1. Muze. p. 489. ISBN 0-19-531373-9. 
  54. ^ a b "Yellow Submarine". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  55. ^ "The Beatles: Album Guide". Archived from the original on 20 September 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  56. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, pp. 70, 73.
  57. ^ "Library and Archives Canada". 
  58. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 360.
  59. ^ Carr & Tyler 1978, p. 76.
  60. ^ Gassman, David (11 November 2009). "The Records, Day Four: 1968–1969". PopMatters. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  61. ^ Dowlding, W.J. (1989). Beatlesongs. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 186. ISBN 0-671-68229-6
  62. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Beatles – Yellow Submarine". Music Canada. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  63. ^ "British album certifications – The Beatles – Yellow Submarine". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 12 August 2016.  Enter Yellow Submarine in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  64. ^ "American album certifications – Beatles, The – Yellow Submarine". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 12 August 2016.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  65. ^ "Beatles albums finally go platinum". British Phonographic Industry. BBC News. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  66. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. 
  67. ^ "Top 50 Albums". RPM. 11 (13). 17 March 1969. Retrieved 9 October 2009. 
  68. ^ "Charts-Surfer: Liedsuche". (in German). Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  69. ^ "VG-lista - The Beatles". Norwegian Albums Chart. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  70. ^ "The Beatles - Full official Chart History". Official Charts. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  71. ^ "The Beatles - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  • The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8. 
  • Carr, Roy; Tyler, Tony (1978). The Beatles: An Illustrated Record (rev. edn). London: Trewin Copplestone Publishing. ISBN 0-450-04170-0. 
  • Castleman, Harry; Podrazik, Walter J. (1976). All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-25680-8. 
  • Collis, Clark (October 1999). "Fantastic Voyage". Mojo. pp. 50–58. 
  • Doggett, Peter (2003). "Yellow Submarine: Underwater Treasure". Mojo: The Beatles' Final Years Special Edition. London: EMAP. pp. 76–79. 
  • Everett, Walter (1999). The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512941-0. 
  • Glynn, Stephen (2013). The British Pop Music Film: The Beatles and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-39223-6. 
  • Hertsgaard, Mark (1996). A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. London: Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-33891-9. 
  • Inglis, Ian (2009). "Revolution". In Womack, Kenneth (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-68976-2. 
  • Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1. 
  • MacDonald, Ian (1997). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (First revised ed.). Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-6697-8. 
  • Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. Random House. ISBN 978-0-436-28022-1. 
  • Miles, Barry (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8308-9. 
  • Schaffner, Nicholas (1978). The Beatles Forever. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-055087-5. 
  • Womack, Kenneth (2014). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39171-2. 
  • Womack, Kenneth; Davis, Todd (2012). Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-8196-7. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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