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

4.9 out of 5 stars 113 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

  • Hardcover: 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: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"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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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 abound...how 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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Format: Hardcover
For at least 4 years, this book has been out of print (it was originally published in 1988). The Beatles Anthology CD releases probably had something to do with this. Nevertheless, if you're interested in the complete recording sessions, this is the book to read. It begins with their 1st EMI session in June 1962 (back when Pete Best was still the Beatles' drummer, before Ringo Starr replaced him) and ends in 1970 with the remixing of the Let It Be sessions with Phil Spector. The only thing that's dated is the often repeated phrase "This remains unreleased to this day" in reference to songs "Leave My Kitten Alone," "Not Guilty" (the Beatles' version), "One After 909" (the 1963 version), "12 Bar Original," "That Means a Lot," "What's the New Mary Jane" and "How Do You Do It." This book features anecdotes about what went on during the studio sessions (some the Anthology listeners and viewers already know about and more), photographs, interviews and insights by producer George Martin, Norman Smith, engineer Geoff Emerick, session drummer Andy White (who took Ringo's place on the single version of "Love Me Do") and an insightful interview with Paul McCartney. Yes, Mark Lewishon has done his homework here with research and hours upon hours of listening to the Beatles' session tapes. In a perfect world, many of these still unreleased sessions would be available for listening, legally (of course, there would be some tracks which would leave the listener thinking "Ok, now I know why they didn't release this"). I'd like to see an updated version of this book (many of Mark's comments concerning the songs and other additional tracks mentioned above will have to be replaced with "Until the release of The Beatles Anthology 1 [or 2 or 3], this take/track remained unreleased"). He'd have to include a section for the Beatles Anthology CD's and DVD collection ("You can hear part of this take on Part 1 [or Part 3 or Part 8] of The Beatles Anthology").
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