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Author Topic: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?  (Read 3096 times)

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alexis

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A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« on: July 17, 2008, 04:06:29 AM »

There's one version where two people sang backup, like a million "ah"s, after each time "... nothing's going to change my world" is sung.

I always thought it was George and Paul at their flipping best, it sounded so darn hard to sing, and and was sung so darn well!

Then ... I read somewhere that they just picked two girls off the street to come in and do it. I'd never think that would be true (doesn't sound like something they would do for such a prominent part), but it sounded sort of semi-authoritative when I read it.

Does anyone know about this? Please tell me it was Paul and George!

Thanks!
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Geoff

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2008, 04:18:38 AM »

No good news, I'm afraid: the two girls were Apple scruffs Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease, who were among the girls hanging around outside Abbey Road. More here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Across_the_Universe
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HeatherBoo

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2008, 04:21:15 AM »

You that is so funny because I was just thinking that to myself today.  I always would skip this song but when I came to it today I listened (and decided I kinda do like it) and I thought, that does not sound like George and Paul...No way!!  

I want to know!!!  Sounds like a choir or something!

This is from Wikipedia (which we all know can't always be trusted but....)

Whilst the basic track was successfully recorded on February 4th, Lennon wasn't satisfied with the feel of the track. Several innovations were tried, including blowing through comb onto paper and humming to add texture to the track, and the addition of a pedal guitar and tambora. In the end, according to Lennon, McCartney persuaded John to call in the services of Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease, two of the so-called Apple scruffs (the female fans who collected outside the studio) to add harmony vocals. Lennon later cited this as evidence of McCartney's "ubconscious sabotage" of Lennon's compositions, saying Paul would have used professional session singers if it was McCartney's own work.[citation needed]


So maybe they did pick some girls off the street!  Shoot....wish it had been me!! Although I can't sing to save my soul & I had yet to be born ;D
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alexis

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2008, 03:30:38 PM »

Wow!! It blows me away, because those harmonies are so exquisite, beautiful, and ... hard! I mean, was it just random that these two apple scruffs could sing really well? Did they have a secret version of Melodyne back then? Did it take them a billion takes to enough good ones to put on the record?

No matter how it turned out, they sure are beautiful harmonies. I wonder if John wrote them alone, or it was a group effort ...

P.S. Hmmm ... two girls named Bravo and Pease ... sounds fishy to me  ;)
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BlueMeanie

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2008, 03:49:27 PM »

Quote from: 568
Wow!! It blows me away, because those harmonies are so exquisite, beautiful, and ... hard! I mean, was it just random that these two apple scruffs could sing really well? Did they have a secret version of Melodyne back then? Did it take them a billion takes to enough good ones to put on the record?


Just a few takes apparently. It was a Sunday evening, so getting a couple of session singers would have been impossible, so Paul went outside and grabbed a couple of Apple Scruffs off the street. Here's a picture of John with Lizzie Bravo:



And here's an article written by Steve Marinucci from the 'Abbeyrd' website, including an interview with her.

The Beatles' original version of "Across the Universe" owes a considerable debt to two Beatle fans, Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease, for their contributions of background vocals. (That
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Geoff

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2008, 05:06:33 AM »

^^^ Thanks for posting that: I hadn't seen it before.  :)
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PaulieBear

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2008, 08:42:21 PM »

I read somewhere that John wanted Professional singers but Paul wanted to hurry the production so he plucked two girls of the streets.
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The Swine

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2010, 01:06:27 PM »

a real apple scruff... paul with lizzie bravo in 1967

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Almighty Doer of Stuff

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2010, 04:24:24 PM »

I think there's some confusion here: Yes, Paul did pick two random Apple Scruffs off the street to sing backup. However, there are multiple versions of Across The Universe: Four have been released officially, all of which were different, if I am correct: Nothing's Gonna Change Our World (appears on Past Masters Volume II), Let It Be, Anthology 2, and Let It Be... Naked. Let me pick this apart, version by version:

NGCOW: Full speed, bird sounds, wah-wah guitar, no added reverb. Also, this version features background parts, which I believe were recorded on different takes. The first is the Apple Scruffs, who sing "Nothing's gonna change my world" along with John, who are noticeably shrill and unpleasant, hence John's displeasure at Paul's bringing them in. Then, there's the nine-note "aaaaaaaaaah" after each "NGCMW", which appears to me to be Paul and George singing falsetto. The last is the repeated "Jai guru deva"s at the end, which is only one person. I'm not entirely sure who this is. It has a sort of shrillness to it like the Scruffs, but in terms of pitch it sounds like a man's falsetto.

LIB: This version is slowed down, both to change the pitch and to make it the same length as the earlier version that was filled out with bird sounds. It is heavily reverbed and Wall-Of-Sounded, with a string section and a professional choir, presumably brought in by Phil Spector. This is neither the Apple Scruffs nor Paul and George, but is indeed a choir as has been suggested by HeatherBoo. The three sets of backing vocals are not present on this version.

Anthology 2: Take 2 of the song, featuring no backing vocals whatsoever. Much more simply arranged than any of the other versions.

LIB...N: Full speed, no string section, choir, or backing vocals. An echoey reverb is added to the final "Jai guru deva"s, which you'd think would go against the whole point of making a Naked version of the album, but that's what they did.

-----

So, the version in question here is indeed the Past Masters Volume II version of the song, in case that was not clear to anyone.

As for who did what backing vocals, I've explained my view of who sang what. Does anyone else have any thoughts?
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Jazz_Singing_Apple

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2010, 09:25:37 PM »

Lizzie Bravo posts regularly on a few photo-blogs and from my understanding is in the middle of writing a book.

You could always drop her a line to clear up what her and Gayleen sung.

http://beatlephotoblog.com/lizzie-bravo#comments
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SemolinaPilchard

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2010, 05:24:37 AM »

Lennon later cited this as evidence of McCartney's "ubconscious sabotage" of Lennon's compositions, saying Paul would have used professional session singers if it was McCartney's own work.[citation needed]


Gee John, paranoid much?
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maywitch

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2010, 09:25:28 PM »

Quote
Gee John, paranoid much?

He also thought, as I recall, that Strawberry Fields was an example of Paul's sabotage on his songs, which cracks me up to no end.  He's gotten a lot of praise for that sabotage. :)
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Yeshelloitsmehereagain

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2012, 01:48:56 AM »

They should do a hatchet of the Twickenham takes, I think it would make for a much better version than the four versions we got already.

The Beatles - Across the Universe [Let it Be Session 4]


It's one of John's very best songs, it's a pity he didn't have a clearer direction of where he wanted to go with it.

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Snoopy66

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2012, 08:54:09 AM »

They should do a hatchet of the Twickenham takes, I think it would make for a much better version than the four versions we got already.

The Beatles - Across the Universe [Let it Be Session 4]

It's one of John's very best songs, it's a pity he didn't have a clearer direction of where he wanted to go with it.

I agree that it's one of John's masterpiece  8)

What do you mean by "it's a pity he didn't have a clearer direction of where he wanted to go with it" ?  ??? I'd say it shows the direction to the psychedelic era.

Snoopy
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Yeshelloitsmehereagain

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2012, 02:51:36 AM »

I mean that John always regarded it as a bad recording of a good song.

I really dislike the sped up Wildlife version, sounds way too rushed and Chipmunky.
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Dcazz

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Re: A-X the Universe - who sang backup?
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2012, 08:00:48 PM »

I mean that John always regarded it as a bad recording of a good song.

I really dislike the sped up Wildlife version, sounds way too rushed and Chipmunky.
I think he should have insisted on a better recording! He had the power and the personality. He either got lethargic because of his drug use or wanted it that way. It could have been lushed up and easily been a style contemporay of Norweigian Wood, Day in the Life or Strawberry Fields!
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