Musical equipment, and not necessarily significant advances in songs themselves, characterized much of the Jan. 3 rehearsals, and certainly so during All Things Must Pass, from the shoctric shocks that actually made the film for the song’s only cinematic “appearance” to the more significant discussions about more macro points that occurred between takes — and during them — as well.
During one particular take — 3.106, if you’re keeping score at home — there’s extended crosstalk that begins as the song is still being played between Paul and Glyn Johns regarding bringing in a mobile eight-track to properly record the Twickenham sessions.
“What about Wally Heider? You know Wally Heider, ” Glyn says to Paul, and he replies, no. “Wally Heider is the mobile guy in America. He’s got a studio on Cahuenga. It’s the Beach Boys’ studio. They have a fucking great truck.
[It’s a] big truck, does eight-track mobile. Did the Cream live album and all that. We could get that, I suppose.”
Mind you, Cream had back-to-back records with live portions, and would later have a full-live album that came out post-breakup. So really, it could be referencing any of those.
Paul replies: “Telephone America… get it here next week, that quick.”
When told EMI only had a four-track mobile, Paul quickly snapped back: “No they haven’t. They took a fucking eight-track out to the Beach Boys. They really do [have an eight-track], because I had to use the studio, and they said, ‘We’re moving the eight-track tonight.’ And that was one of the excuses they used. Really.”
Paul continues to George: “If you wanted to to get eight-track stuff to record all this, you wanted to get the greatest equipment, where would we get it? Because apparently it hasn’t been… (recording trails off).
“We lend it to ourselves,” George says. “But EMI should do it. It’s like if Benjamin Britten wants to do an album in Paris, EMI has to fucking get all that shit over to him.”
“And they do it of course,” Paul adds, disgusted.
“Seeing as we subsidize EMI, then get it out of there,” George replies.
After a break in the tape, Paul continues.
“The answer is to get here before the end of this week the best console they possibly have here. Really, the end of the week. And what’s the hangup? Is it the expense? Japan and America, they’re both very together. Germany? Germany’s very together. … See, we should hust have a mixer and everything.
“If it was America, they’d be there with 48 eight-tracks,” George later adds. “And it’s a live album, they’re the company they get to charge on it , they have to supply it.”
The band returns to All Things Must Pass. But they weren’t done talking. After a few more takes, the band goes back to discussing essence of the sessions (3.138).
“You know,” George begins, “the idea of doing this thing so it’s just us doing it and there’s no overdubs or you can’t get out of it , is much better, really. Because you know all the time recording you think, it’s all right, we can do that later. So you never get even the most out of that [indecipherable]… really.
John finally chimes in after briefly asking about the song’s lyrics with further ruminations on the live performance with the band just two years and four months removed from their final live show.
People who are doing live shows now, they take so much gear on stage with them like echoes, phasing, tapes. And they do it live — they do their overdubs. And we’re still thinking of it in terms of the four guys and four amps.
Before returning to playing, George talks of getting a Leslie guitar pedal for the show and then of Magic Alex working on their studio that week before the band ultimately pivots to Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.
Fascinating are the politics involved with EMI and the issues they apparently had domestically in the UK.
And again, I can’t get over the question of why they even have started the sessions given the questions they still had over recording and getting equipment.
More All Things Must Pass talk in the next post.
Many, many thanks to @TheLilacTime and commenters @trainman74 and anonymous for helping clear up some of the details in the above bit of dialogue, including Wally Heider’s identity, Glyn’s voice and the location of Cahuenga.