The Million Volt Sound and Light Rave was an arts festival that ran at the Roundhouse Theatre in Chalk Farm in January 1967.
It was organised by the designers Binder, Edwards and Vaughan and is most famous for a musical piece that David Vaughan had requested from Paul McCartney.
Vaughan had recently painted a psychedelic design onto a piano for McCartney and invited the Beatle to contribute a musical piece for the festival.
At this point the Beatles were the most popular band in the world so Vaughan was shocked when McCartney agreed to do so.
Given a free hand to produce anything they wanted Lennon and McCartney recorded a backing track of an organ playing bass notes with some drums speeded up and improvised what was recorded over it.
McCartney described the recording process as him telling people:
‘All I want you to do is just wander around all the stuff, bang it, shout, play it, it doesn’t need to make any sense. Hit a drum and then wander onto the piano, hit a few notes and just wander around.’
Lennon and McCartney then added Native American war cries, whistling, closed-mike gasping, genuine coughing and fragments of studio conversation.
A church organ, a cinema organ and a pub piano were also incorporated into the mix along with Lennon and McCartney screaming dementedly and bellowing out random words and phrases such as ‘Barcelona!’, ‘Electricity!’ and ‘Are you alright?’
Dudley Edwards, of Binder, Edwards and Vaughan, claimed that an early take of ‘Fixing a Hole’, which would appear later that year on ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ also appeared on this track.
The track was called ‘Carnival of Light’ and has never appeared on any official Beatles release. McCartney claimed that he wanted to include it on the ‘Beatles Anthology 2' album in 1996 but was blocked by George Harrison. According to McCartney, Harrison rejected it as ‘he wasn’t a fan of avant garde music.’
Given the experimental nature of Harrison’s work, in and out of the Beatles, it seems more likely he wasn’t a fan of random noises that isn’t really music at all...