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The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970 Paperback – October 1, 2013

105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A compelling journey deep into the heart of Abbey Road. . . . Reveals scores of previously undocumented private moments” —Rolling Stone
“The ultimate word on the subject... one of the most important rock books of all time. Absolutely essential purchase for everyone interested in the Beatles.” —Record Collector

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One of the most important and successful rock 'n' roll books ever published is now available in paperback. This is the definitive guide to every recording session done by the Beatles at EMI's Abbey Road recording studio. 150 full-color, 100 duotone, and 100 black-and-white photographs. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling; Reprint edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1454910054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1454910053
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 11.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 84 people found the following review helpful By General Breadbasket on December 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions" is a fine book, covering the recording, mixing and release of the Beatles songs, from the demos in 1962, to Phil Spector's reworking of "Let it Be" in 1970. There's a fair few photos too, which are great.

This book was originally a project for John Barrett, an Abbey Road audio engineer who fell ill in the early 1980s and needed something to take his mind off things, and was commissioned to go through the Beatles tapes and catalogue them all. He died, sadly, and Mark Lewisohn (the writer of the liner notes for the Beatles "Past Masters" CDs) was asked to come in and write up Barrett's research. Together, they've put together a pretty thorough book. It lists how each song was recorded, credits for session men (where possible), and reflective comments from producer George Martin, engineers Geoff Emerick, Norman Smith, Glyn Johns and Alan Parsons, among others. There's also occaisonal bits of Beatle banter from the sessions (which is always great to hear/read), and a Paul McCartney/Mark Lewisohn interview as an introduction.

After reading it I think I know the Beatles a bit better now. In particular, I definitely understand why they broke up. Their schedule was pretty hectic, recording and re-recording everything, looking at the same four walls of the Abbey Road studios. It was exhausting just reading their 1967 sessions (where they did "Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band", then straight after "Magical Mystery Tour", the first, high-pressure live broadcast "All You Need is Love" and the tracks especially for the "Yellow Submarine" film). It's amazing they handled it all so well for so long.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By First Things First on December 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am simply dumbfounded that this book has gone out of print. There is simply no other source for the information contained in this book, and it is consistently fascinating, entertaining and enlightening. In view of the never-ending interest in The Beatles CDs, and the fascination with how the band was able to make such huge strides forward in the evolution and revolution of pop and rock music, not to mention our popular culture in general, it is amazing that this book even exists in the first place as a miraculous wellspring of information. It contains virtually everything you would ever want to know about how all of the Beatles songs were recorded, from many different perspectives including producer George Martin, engineer Geoff Emerick, the Beatles crew members, and anyone and everyone who was present. You will see the exact sequence of events as song ideas turned to demos, demos to masters, overdubs, special effects, recording accidents, mixes and mastering. You will see how albums took shape, and songs from one period ended up on albums from another period. Amazing facts about the fact that in the entire recording history of The Beatles, drummer Ringo Starr never made a musical mistake which caused the tape machines to stop rolling. Think about it...a perfect record of studio drumming! With all the complexity and variety of the music, not to mention 16-20 hour recording sessions for months on end, with guitars hitting wrong notes, voices cracking, piano note bloopers etc. A truly amazing feat! As the owner of both a Hardcover copy and a Softcover copy of this book, I suddenly realize that I am far richer than I thought! Find this book, read it, study it, and treasure it!
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71 of 86 people found the following review helpful By ABQChris on September 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I can't give it all five stars, due to the errors that could have easily been corrected between the first edition and this (fourth?) one -- new things have come to light since the book's initial appearance, thanks to the Anthology episodes and the great book, Recording the Beatles.

Much of the information in this book is erroneous, although nothing more was known as of 1988. So it's not a bad job; it's just out of date. The sheer work and research involved deserves a revision, and not just a reprint to cash in on the recurrent waves of Beatles interest.

One little problem is that Mark doesn't seem to know much about the writing or recording of music; he often uses confusing terminology that doesn't quite fit (he seems misguided about what a middle eight is, for instance, and has no idea what the difference is between an "overdub" and an "edit piece").

When he tries to interject his own opinion -- which isn't indicated in a book of nonfiction data like this -- he's often comically out of line. One instance that stands out is when he claims that "Martha My Dear" is not about Paul's sheepdog. It obviously IS, not only judging from Paul's comments, but also considering that lyrics like "Hold your head up, you silly girl" were certainly not written about a human being.

Having said all of that, this is highly addictive reading, the prose having been painstakingly researched and optimally assembled. It's an obvious recommendation to any more-than-casual Beatles fan who likes to read, wishes the music would always be focused on instead of irrelevant soap-opera stories about the musicians' personal lives, and has an interest in the only big instrument that the Beatles actually were virtuosos at: the recording studio.
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