ALAN PARSONS HAS a new project! However, rather than working in the studio the legendary prog muso and producer is talking about one, namely Abbey Road.
With the London studio opening its doors to the public this month for a series of events, the recording pioneer is giving several talks about the storied facility, his recordings with The Beatles, Pink Floyd and more.
The first Sleeve Notes event is tomorrow (November 13), with four more taking place across the month. Visit www.abbeyroad.com for details.
As a taster, Parsons – who is reissuing his 1990 album The Turn Of A Friendly Card on November 6 – has give us five facts you may not know about Abbey Road. Funnily enough, most of them concern Abbey Road.
Ringo’s Production Bubble
Alan Parsons: “Octopus’s Garden was the second song ever to be composed by Ringo Starr. The idea for the song came about when Ringo was on a boat belonging to Peter Sellers in Sardinia in 1968. The boat’s captain told Starr how octopuses liked to travel along the sea bed picking up stones and shiny objects with which they would build their gardens. The story obviously resonated with Ringo. I remember him blowing bubbles through a straw into a glass of water to get the Octopus sound effect. I must confess this isn’t my favourite song in the Beatles oeuvre….”
Elton John Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Session Brother
Alan Parsons: “I didn’t do any work with Graham Nash’s incarnation of The Hollies, but I did their first sessions with new vocalist Terry Sylvester, who I got to know very well, and later produced solo records for at Abbey Road. Terry was brought in to fill the vocal spot left by Graham, which he did perfectly. I worked on hit records The Air That I Breathe and He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – both of which feature Terry, who could really hit the high notes. Another lesser-known fact is that Reg Dwight AKA Elton John played piano on He Ain’t Heavy.”
The Beatles’ Her Majesty Was Supposed To Be Deleted
Alan Parsons: “When assembling the three-track medley that would appear on Side 2 of Abbey Road, the song Her Majesty was originally tucked in between Mean Mr Mustard and Polythene Pam. McCartney decided to remove the song, so engineer John Kurlander – having been told never to throw anything away – stuck it in 20 seconds after the close of The End, which was then accidently left on an acetate made up from that tape. When McCartney heard the acetate he actually decided he like the way it worked in that context, and so it remained the final cut.”
Abbey Road Was Almost Named After A Pack Of Fags, Not The Studio
Alan Parsons: The album’s working title was actually Everest, named after the cigarettes that sound engineer Geoff Emerick smoked at the time. The band planned on taking a private jet over the foothills of Mount Everest to shoot the cover photograph, but as they became increasingly eager to finish the album, Paul suggested that they should just go outside and take the cover photo there and then. Thus the Abbey Road crossing photo shoot came about and the renaming of the album after the street on which the shoot, and recording, had taken place.”
Hammer Time And Scissor Cuts With The Beatles
Alan Parsons: “Ringo used an actual hammer and anvil for Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, which also had an experimental intro that involved reversing the tape and using tape echo. On Here Comes the Sun, Geoff Emerick placed editing tape on the master to give a flutter effect to the keyboard sound. The mix for I Want You (She’s So Heavy) didn’t get faded out. I specifically remember John Lennon telling me to ‘just cut the tape’ – literally – instructing exactly where to cut the end, which I did with scissors, which accounts for the dramatic abrupt ending.”