Many musicians are famous for winging it, pulling off one-offs, and some have even recorded hit songs in a single take. Below are PPcorn‘s five famous songs recorded in a single take.
Number Five: The Velvet Underground – Sister Ray. This classic rock song was a staple of The Velvet Underground’s live shows. They often closed out their set with “Sister Ray,” jamming out for up to thirty minutes, sometimes more. The studio recording of it was a single take that lasts over seventeen minutes.
Number Four: The Kingsmen – Louie Louie. This song was a Richard Berry single from 1955, which The Kingsmen covered in 1963 at Northwestern, Inc., Motion Pictures and Recording, located in Portland. Like many single take recordings, the track contains an audible error just after the first guitar break. Jack Ely started singing the second verse too early and stopped himself short, creating a gap that drummer Lynn Easton smoothly filled with a clever drum fill. The band actually wasn’t too thrilled with the first take, but for some reason that was the only take they did, and it became a classic rock song.
Number Three: The Animals – House of the Rising Sun. This traditional folk song was also recorded by Bob Dylan, prior to The Animals recording it in studio between shows while on tour with Chuck Berry. The recording took place in London, in May of 1964. Still considered one of the greatest rock songs ever, the one-off reached the top of US and UK charts shortly after its release, making it their signature hit.
Number Two: The Beatles – Twist & Shout. While recording their debut album Please Please Me The Beatles famously did a single take cover of The Isley Brothers song “Twist & Shout.” Recording 11 songs in only 10 hours, John Lennon’s voice was hurting, to say the least, on top of his having a cold at the time. Producer George Martin had left this song for last, and though they attempted a second take, Lennon’s voice was gone by then. It’s also rumored that Lennon chugged a glass of milk before the first take in an attempt to soothe his throat, which gave his voice that extra raspiness audible on “Twist & Shout.” It was the first take only in this case!
Number One: Frank Sinatra – pretty much any of his songs. Frank was even known by the nickname “One-take Frank” in the music industry and as “One-take Charlie” in the field of acting for his style of spontaneity. Frank would walk into a recording studio, sing a live song with a band, turn around and walk back out. Quincy Jones, who produced albums by Sinatra said, “He came in at 2 p.m., and in less than two hours we had rehearsed, had keys and routines on ten songs… Frank is one take, that’s it. If the band’s not in shape, he leaves them behind… he came in at 7, and at 8:20, baby, we went home. None of that three-month stuff.”