It is great to hear how John was in such high spirits during these sessions. But other incidents cite some not-so-nice, jarring incidents that this book excludes. Did Yoko get `final cut' in return for her participation? The result is like overly-sweet `the making of' DVD bonus features , where every actor was the director's first choice, everyone was a joy to work with, and...ad nauseum, they're all the same. Still, there's enough new information here from the musicians involved to make this exercise a worthwhile one for Lennon fans.
A further problem, though, is that there is almost zero discussion of Lennon's `Milk and Honey' tracks. These, of course, were part and parcel of the `Double Fantasy' sessions, and I can't see there being any sequel for this book to discuss them. With no disrespect to Yoko--I like quite a bit of her stuff--I would rather that all the space devoted to her `Double Fantasy' tracks had been assigned to the Lennon tracks whose release were held up until `Milk & Honey' BECAUSE Yoko insisted on parity. Surely this is a mystifying oversight that nearly every Lennon fan who reads this book will find as aggravating as I did. `The Making of Lennon's `1980 Comeback' Tracks' would have been a title and book contents more to the liking of nearly every Lennon fan.
Theoretically this should have been an easy project. Sharp had already done a good part of it in magazine interview form. Just get as many of the people involved in those sessions to reminisce, and then weave those memories into a coherent whole. Which he did, but in leaving out anything negative and leaving out Lennon's `Milk and Honey' cuts, a slam-dunk of a book becomes unnecessarily flawed and unsatisfying.
Still: 4 stars because it was worth doing. Beatle John lived on musically, and there were Beatleworthy gems galore amongst his 1980 recordings.
Come to think of it, maybe there should be a sequel: `The UNmaking of Double Fantasy', to discuss the `Stripped Down' version. Ironically, we have the present book talking, in part, about adding all that Spector-ish gloss. And meanwhile, Jack Douglas and Yoko are just back from the studio, three decades later, having mercifully peeled away several suffocatingly superfluous layers of embellishment that they should have talked John out of asking for in the first place. (He was feeling insecure about his voice, the favourite singing voice of all time for many of us.) No, it shouldn't have taken 30 years to undo the damage but better late than never--absolutely. I guess we had to wait for Jack and Yoko`s mutual hostility from their 1980s lawsuits against one another to cool.
I`d say that the stripped down `(Just Like) Starting Over`and `I`m Losing You` and `Beautiful Boy` are now the masterpieces they always could have been. `Cleanup Time` is much better. And so is `Dear Yoko`, except that the version off the Lennon Anthology is still better because of the looser vocal on it. As for the masterpieces `Watching the Wheels` and `Woman`, I believe they need and flourish with that extra gloss on the original album. Ironic, isn`t it, that the stripped down tracks now sound more like the gloss-free `Milk and Honey` tracks that the author left out of this book.