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Yellow Submarine (album)

Yellow Submarine
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 Side 1 – Psychedelic rock
Side 2 – Orchestral
Length 40:12
Label Apple
Producer George Martin
The Beatles chronology
The Beatles
Yellow Submarine
Abbey Road

Yellow Submarine is the tenth 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 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 1
  • Release 2
    • Artwork 2.1
    • Unreleased EP 2.2
    • Reissues 2.3
  • Reception 3
  • Track listing 4
  • Certifications 5
  • Notes 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Background and recording

Side two of the album contained 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 tracks, the first to be recorded was Only a Northern Song", during the sessions for Sgt. Pepper. It was taped in February 1967 but subsequently shelved, along with an unfinished instrumental written by Harrison.[8] The song was originally titled "Not Known" and the lyrics reflect Harrison's dismay at 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 eight 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][1]

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]


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, 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.[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] 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.[17] 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 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.[23]


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,[24] while the US version did not.[25]

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.[26] 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.[25][27]

Unreleased EP

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 issued.[17] 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]


The first compact disc release appeared in August 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.[28]

The album appeared in a revised version on 13 September 1999, coinciding with the remastered re-release of the film. Titled orchestrations, and includes the six Beatles songs from the original album, along with an additional nine songs, all completely remixed for this disc.[29]

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.[30] 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.[31][32]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [33]
The A.V. Club C–[34]
Consequence of Sound C+[35]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music [36]
Pitchfork Media 6.2/10[37]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [38]

In contrast to the animated film, Yellow Submarine was not generally considered to be a significant release.[3] Issued two months after The Beatles,[39] 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.[40] On America's Billboard Top LPs chart, it was kept from the top by the same album.[41]

Recalling the release in a special-edition issue of 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".[42] According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, however, the band were "mildly criticized at the time" for failing to provide their customary "excellent value-for-money" with the soundtrack album.[17]

More recently, [37]

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."[43] 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.[35]

Track listing

All songs written and composed 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 3:51

All songs written and composed 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


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[44] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[45] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[46] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

BPI certification awarded only for sales since 1994.[47]


  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]
  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 e 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. ^ Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol / EMI. 1969. 8XW-153. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  24. ^ Guerin, Christopher (11 November 2009). "'"Nothing is Real: The Beatles 'Yellow Submarine. PopMatters. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  25. ^ a b Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol. 1969. SW-153. 
  26. ^ Womack 2009, p. 114.
  27. ^ "Dan Davis". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  28. ^ Yellow Submarine (Media notes). Capitol / EMI. 1987. CDP 7 464452. 
  29. ^  
  30. ^ "Yellow Submarine". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "Mono Masters – The Beatles". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  32. ^ Kozinn, Allan (2 September 2009). "Long and Winding Road, Newly Repaved".  
  33. ^ a b Yellow Submarine (album) at AllMusic
  34. ^  
  35. ^ a b Young, Alex (25 September 2009). "Album Review: The Beatles – Yellow Submarine [Remastered]".  
  36. ^  
  37. ^ a b "Yellow Submarine". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  38. ^ "The Beatles: Album Guide".  
  39. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, pp. 70, 73.
  40. ^ "Library and Archives Canada". 
  41. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 360.
  42. ^ a b Doggett, Peter (2003). "Underwater Treasure".  
  43. ^ Gassman, David (11 November 2009). "The Records, Day Four: 1968–1969".  
  44. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Beatles – Yellow Submarine".  
  45. ^ "British album certifications – The Beatles – Yellow Submarine".   Enter Yellow Submarine in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  46. ^ "American album certifications – Beatles, The – Yellow Submarine".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  47. ^ "Beatles albums finally go platinum".  
  • Castleman, Harry; Podrazik, Walter J. (1976). All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.  
  • Miles, Barry (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years. London: Omnibus Press.  
  • Glynn, Stephen (2013). The British Pop Music Film: The Beatles and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan.  
  • Womack, Kenneth, ed. (2009). The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles. Cambridge University Press.  
  • Womack, Kenneth; Davis, Todd (2012). Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four. SUNY Press.  

Further reading


External links

  • Official website
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
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