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All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release Hardcover – October 22, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 245 customer reviews

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From Booklist

*Starred Review* This hefty gem of a book catalogs every recording released by the Beatles, in chronological order of album release. The Beatles were early adopters of available technology and were known for using innovative techniques, and this book admirably captures the recording process of their English catalog, including all the singles and studio albums. Each song gets a minimum two-page spread, featuring the credits for the recording, a section on the genesis of the song, a narrative on the production, and a paragraph on technical details. While the bulk of the material is not new information, Guesdon and Margotin have done extensive research. They know their stuff (Guesdon is a musician; Margotin, a music critic), and it shows—especially in the Production and Technical Details sections, where the type of equipment is named and described, recording speeds are discussed, and there is much talk of the number of takes each song required and why. Footnotes are found in each entry. Side boxes of trivia (For Beatles Fanatics) are posted throughout, letting readers in on such trivia as If you listen carefully, you can make out an extra voice in the solo part at exactly 1:32 on Any Time at All. Large-scale black-and-white photos abound, with color shots popping up as well. A short glossary of technical and musical terms, an index of albums and songs, a list of release dates, and a general index round out the work.Comprehensive and entertaining, this is a good reference source of music trivia and a must for the circulating collections of most public and academic libraries. Beatles fans will be clamoring for this one. --Rebecca Vnuk


[This] doorstop collects a galaxy of Beatles song data into impressively simple and digestible form.  Beautifully illlustrated.

New York Post

Since they burst onto the scene 50 years ago, millions of words have been written about every aspect of the Beatles' music and career, from books aimed at teenage female fans to scholarly works deconstructing "The White Album."

Now comes "All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release," an exhaustive tome that gives the inside scoop on every song on every album from their debut, "Please Please Me," to their swan song, "Abbey Road," as well as all the singles, EPs and B-sides they produced between 1963 and 1970.

The book, which is arranged chronologically, is a collaboration between French music writer Philippe Margotin, who has penned books on U2 and the Rolling Stones, and musician Jean-Michel Guesdon, who has spent 30 years collecting information about the Fab Four.

"All the Songs" is a trove of trivia for even the most ardent Beatles fan, featuring facts ranging from who played which instrument on each song to when and where each song was recorded. Margotin and Guesdon also include how many takes each song required as well as who was in the studio when the songs were recorded.

While many of the stories behind the songs will be familiar to Beatles fans ? the classic "Yesterday" originally was titled "Scambled Eggs," the title for "A Hard Day's Night" came from a Ringo Starr malapropism, Eric Clapton played the blistering guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" ? there are plenty of others that are obscure enough to keep fans reading.

Among some of the more interesting revelations:

? Several of the songs on "Help!" ? "You're Going to Lose that Girl," "Ticket to Ride" and "Yesterday" ? required only two takes, while the band got "Another Girl" right on the very first one. In contrast, the album's title tune took 12 takes while the band's cover of the Buck Owens' "Act Naturally" needed 13.

? Paul McCartney wrote the ballad "Michelle" when he was a student at the Liverpool Institute of Art, inserting French phrases into the song as a ploy to attract women. ? Members of Pink Floyd, who were recording their first LP "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" at Abbey Road studios at the same time the Beatles were recording "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," sat in the control room while the Beatles mixed the song "Lovely Rita" in March 1967.

? There is a discernable burst of profanity at the 2:59 mark in the song "Hey Jude," although there is disagreement about whether it was uttered by John Lennon or McCartney.

? One of Lennon's favorite guitars was a 1958 Rickenbacker Capri, which he bought on a whim for about $150 when the Beatles were cutting their musical chops in Hamburg, Germany, in 1960. He played the guitar, which he had repainted black, on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and used it in the studio until 1965. His widow, Yoko Ono, said he also used it on "Double Fantasy," the last album Lennon recorded before his death in 1980.

In addition to the stories behind the songs, the book also contains hundreds of photos from all phases of the Beatles' career, many of them rarely seen.

Added together, "All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release" is an engaging journey through the band's canon that should easily satisfy both casual and die-hard fans.

A perfect giftt for the Fab-Four fanatic

The Nation

Everybody has a Beatles fan in their life, and you'll make them very happy if you give them a copy of All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release


Fifty years ago, the Beatles released their debut album. So many commemorative books have appeared recently that it's hard to keep count, but if you're a fan and All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release (Black Dog & Leventhal, 672 pages, $50) makes it onto your coffee table, chances are that it'll be the one least likely to leave. Music historians Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margotin dissect, discuss and analyze every song, from 'Please Please Me' (1963) to 'The Long and Winding Road' (1970). There's a well-written 'Genesis' and 'Production' section for each song, as well as enough technical tables to please everyone's inner nerd, not to mention 600 photographs.


Fun facts about every one of the Fab Four's creations, with photos. Yeah yeah yeah."


Impossible not to like for Beatle-types


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal; F First Edition edition (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579129528
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579129521
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 2.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What I mean is, that this massive (heavy!) book takes the "greatest bits of info" from the Lewisohn, Babiuk, Ryan/Kehew books, as well as previously published interviews by the Beatles and associates, recording anomalies (readily available on several internet sites) and puts them together under one cover (primary songwriter, instrument/vocal credit, dates/mixing/studio location and personnel, specific instruments used, the Anthology series audio material and additional background info). The authors DO give credit to these various sources whenever necessary and present it in a well-organized format. You will not see photos of the EMI recording boxes nor photos of every single instrument used, however there is certainly enough visual material to make the book a valuable tool covering the studio career of the Beatles. I also give them credit for the using "?" when information has not been 100% verified (i.e. who actually played the 12-string part on "Every Little Thing"). I appreciate this "when in doubt..." approach.

I'd really give this book 4-1/2 stars, but not 5, due to the fact that the previously published books (mentioned above) contained much of this info. What I WILL say, is that this will now by my main go-to source for the the Beatles studio session information. It also stands on its own and is well-written. It's now a matter of justifying the price, but I have no regrets purchasing this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you fell in love with the print version, as I did, but were waiting for the Kindle version so you wouldn't have to lug around that giant physical book be warned that the Kindle version has NONE of the great photos found in the print version. I have no issue with the text but the omission of the graphics is unacceptable. I've just requested a refund and ordered the physical book.
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Format: Hardcover
Subtitled, “The story behind every Beatles release” this is a HUGE volume (nearly 700 pages) – a virtual treasure trove of information and an obvious labour of love. Much of the information contained in this book has been made available before, in works such as The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, but this is a great collation of information nevertheless and it is well laid out and clearly designed. Another minus point is that the book deals solely with every Beatles release, so does not cover songs they did not put out on record. However, the pluses of this book more than make up for the minuses.

This is a more of a coffee table book than anything else, ideal to dip into. It lists, comprehensively and with great detail all the album and single recording sessions – using UK releases as the basis for the book, but also mentioning American releases (often different, especially in the early years). This mammoth read takes us from Love Me Do to You Know My Name (Look Up the Number). Each release has copious details; for example the chapter on the album Help! lists when it was released, where it charted and for how long, singles taken from it, the background to the album, instruments used, the genesis of the work, production and technical details for each track. There are also lots of interesting snippets, such as songs that were discarded, singles released and even explanations for all sorts of tiny noises in the background and who made them.

Of course, any book on the Beatles recording sessions must contain information on both Abbey Road studios and George Martin, who did so much to translate the Beatles visions into recorded music. Nick Mason, of Pink Floyd, said, “every time the Beatles worked at Abbey Road, the atmosphere of the studios was transformed.
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Format: Hardcover
I knew when I had finished reading this this Six-pound (!) book (that you can also use to flatten any old Beatles – or other – warped Lp records), and was ready to post my review, I’d be faced by other reviews from Beatles fans more knowledgeable then me. I was in college by the time the four “lads from Liverpool” hit the US on radio, then TV and finally on tour. I loved there music, and still do, but I’m not as immersed as some. So, knowing that going in, here is my take on this book.

Yes, there is lots of info here but it’s not in a dry “discographical” format. This book does borrow from other books but – as is pointed out by others – it puts it in one place and, honestly, there are folks – like me – who don’t have the other books. Oh yes, cost was mentioned. Though it has a list price of $50., Amazon is selling(as I write this) at $30. With shipping included. Priced Media rate shipping lately. Postage has to be nearly $5.00.

Next, the book has photos and illustrations – LOTS of them. This could be considered a colorful “Art” book or what many call a “coffee table book”. Now I will say that the publisher used heavy paper (and the print size is pretty large) so the book – at 641 pages – is heavier than I’d expect for a reference book this size. Quite a few of the pages are full-page photos.

There is an index in the rear (of titles of albums and songs) and a few – but not many footnotes. I do agree with another reviewer that I liked that, when the authors/compilers weren’t sure of something they admitted it.
So, if you are a casual Beatle fan – or know one who needs a gift – I can recommend this book. Yes, it can be a reference but it’s also “eye candy” for the casual record collector who has a lot of Beatles material and wants to know more.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”
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