Joined: 01 Sep 2005
|Posted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:24 am Post subject:
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn
I can't say it any better than this:
In the world of the Beatles, author Mark Lewisohn is renowned for his meticulous research and integrity. His word is his bond. Perhaps, Mark became the envy of Beatles fans the world over when, in 1987, he was commissioned by EMI to listen to all of the Beatles original session tapes and catalogue his findings in the heralded book, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.
This book is the result of the Dream Job of a Lifetime for a Beatles Fan. Lewisohn does it very well, though has admitted over time that there are flaws in the book. That is one of the sad thing about the latest version is that it doesn't really make a big effort to clean those up. But the flaws are relatively minor, and are resolved by other books that a fan who has this is likely to have as well.
The format is literally an entry for every day in the studio by the Beatles or the production staff (when mixing for final release). The entry will list the songs worked on, the number of takes or mixes, the studio, the producer and/or engineer, and then have a description or discussion of the day's work. Some descriptions/discussions aren't as enlightening as other, such as the recording of the Please Please Me album (not including the singles). The non-single songs were recorded in a day, so there really isn't a big talk about the recording of each song. :)
Later as the band takes more time to work on songs, the entries get much more interesting. Don't take this to mean that's it's a Professor lecturing the students on the art of Beatles songs. More interesting in the sense of stories, new techniques being used in the studios, changes in the songs over takes, etc. This is less a revelation into the creative process but rather a good read along with being an excellent reference of the Beatles songbook.
There are quite a few other books that cover some of the same material, at least in the sense of looking song-by-song, touching on when it was recored, and giving background on the songs. The link above cites two by John C Winn, which Lewisohn himself puts over. Almost any of the ones from the 90s to the present that you see reference this as a major source. You'll see it as well all over the web on Beatle related sites. It's a really good reference addition to a Beatles Library for a Beatles Fan.
Lewisohn also wrote The Beatles Live, which attempts the same with the Beatles concert career. He came out with The Complete Beatles Chronicle which combines elements from both books. I don't have either of them, but they both come well recommended and I should be picking them up shortly. He currently is working on a mammoth three part bio of the Beatles that he will finish the final volume in 2016.