“Carnival Of Light” is an unreleased Beatles track from 1967.
Recorded: 5th January, 1967
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Avant-garde; experimental and precursor to Revolution 9
Track Duration: 13:48
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
Because of the lack of information at this time it is not possible to give an accurate account of the instruments used. However, we believe that there is percussion instruments, keyboards, guitar, vocals, and various sound effects on loops.
Carnival Of Light
To begin with, this sound collage by The Beatles was a creation for “The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave” aka “The Carnival of Light Rave”. The idea was to play the piece at two events on the 28th of January and the 4th February 1967 at the Roundhouse Theatre in Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London.
Around December 1966, designer David Vaughan delivered a painted piano to Paul McCartney. The commissioned psychedelic design was the creation of Binder, Edwards & Vaughan (BEV). Upon delivery, Vaughan asked McCartney if he would contribute some music to the electronic music and light shows. Obviously Vaughan couldn’t believe it when McCartney agreed. Despite The Beatles working for the epic “Sgt Pepper” album, they still managed to find the time to record the track.
The Beatles began to record “Carnival Of Light” on the 5th January, 1967, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London, during the 7.00pm-12.15am session. The single take had the name of “Untitled” and was complete after the band added their vocals to “Penny Lane“.
“[The track has] no rhythm, though a beat is sometimes established for a few bars by the percussion or a rhythmic pounding on the piano. There is no melody, though snatches of a tune sometimes threaten to break through.”
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
“Track one of the tape was full of distorted, hypnotic drum and organ sounds, track two had a distorted lead guitar, track three had the sounds of a church organ, various effects (the gargling of water was one) and voices, track four featured various indescribable sound effects with heaps of tape echo and manic tambourine.
But of all the frightening sounds it was the voices on track three which really set the scene, John and Paul screaming dementedly and bawling aloud random phrases like ‘Are you all right?’ and ‘Barcelona!’
Paul terminated the proceedings after almost 14 minutes with one final shout up to the control room: ‘Can we hear it back now?'”
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions
Shrouded in mystery and never released, we almost saw its appearance in the mid 1990s. Paul McCartney wanted it as a track on “Anthology 2” but George Harrison objected. The Beatles being democratic would not go against band members who vetoed anything, of course. McCartney said Harrison vetoed it because “he didn’t like avant garde music”. Indeed, Harrison would refer to avant garde as “avant garde a clue” (“I haven’t got a clue”).
Engineer Geoff Emerick once said in 2006 that parts of “The Carnival of Light” later became part of “Revolution 9“. There can be no comparison until the track has an official release though. But if true, we should be able to hear “bits and pieces” to compare.
There is no official or bootleg release of “Carnival Of Light”, so anything on the likes of YouTube is fake. Once there is an official release, the Beatles Forum and Cavern Club will announce it here. However, Giles Martin has indicated that he may do something interesting with the track at a later date. So it’s a case of watch this space!