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Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy [Hardcover]

Ken Sharp
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ome (1 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439103003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439103005
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 16.4 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Starting Over Celebrating the 30th anniversary of "Double Fantasy"--John Lennon's last release--"Starting Over" presents a somber reminder of what could have been. Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informed & Very Moving 8 Jan 2011
With the recent release of the Stripped Down version of Double Fantasy still fresh in our minds this book is the perfect companion. Unlike others in the same ilk, this book postively smacks of authenticity. Why? Because it features the detailed recollections of the band and producer that John and Yoko worked with on that timeless album which had just three short weeks to breathe before the unthinkable happened on Decemeber 8 1980. I also like the fact that the mindless killer is hardly mentioned, which is of course right as he apparently killed Lennon to obtain an identity. Well, sorry, he is and will remain a complete nobody. "The jerk of all jerks" as McCartney thought at the time.

The only thing that matters is the music here and it is compulsive reading to read the recollections of Earl Slick (guitar), Hugh McCracken(guitar), George Small (keyboards), Tony Levin (bass), Jack Douglas (co-producer), Andy Newmark (drums) et al. They were there after all, unlike everyone else. By all accounts, this was a fantastic record to make, and that is evident on both the original album, and perhaps even more so on the Stripped Down version. Even the somewhat controversial Cheap Trick sessions (versions of 'I'm Losing You' and 'I'm Moving On' were recorded but never made the final cut)are treated with grace, and warmth in the simple recollection of a great session. For the record, I love the Cheap Trick version of 'Losing You' (plus the great video made in 1998) but it didn't really fit in with the rest of the record, in my humble opinion. But herein lies the rub. Had Lennon lived, he surely would have made space for more experimental recordings such as this.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable 12 April 2011
I really enjoyed this book. The only criticism is that it isn't longer!
Very informative with some great photos. I would recommend this to any fan of John Lennon.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Huge Letdown! 15 Feb 2011
By Boswell
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was hugely disappointed by this book. The basic premise seems to be a load of sycophants wondering why the main subject(John Lennon)couldnt walk on water.Did nobody have a bad word to say about the man or have any criticism about the making of "Double Fantasy"? I cannot believe that so many people can look back 30 years and have such detailed memories about the daily minutia of the various recording sessions. One of the main contributors,Andy Newmark,rattles on for pages about what went on then tells us his memory is not what it was - really? There are contradictions on almost every page and several glaring errors ( ie: "Walking On Thin Ice" appears on Double Fantasy) A good attempt but it falls short.Also,if you actually read between the lines,Yoko doesnt come up smelling of roses either. As this book came out around the same time as the celebrations for Lennons 70th birthday, the phrase cash-in springs to mind.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental! 17 Oct 2010
By Raspbernie - Published on Amazon.com
There have been so many books written about John Lennon's life and work that one would wonder what new information could possibly be unearthed to sustain yet another effort. Well, stop wondering and immediately pick up a copy of "Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy." Author Ken Sharp's latest book focusing on John Lennon's last recording sessions manages to dig so deep into its subject that you'll be riveted on every page. Sharp interviews just about everyone involved with the project and mines each for never-before-told inside stories. He then embellishes the book with dozens of never-before-seen photographs of Lennon that cover the gamut from his first day back at a recording studio in years to laying down tracks for his new album. All-in-all, this book is one that every John Lennon or Beatle fan should read. It is so compelling, that one you start reading it you will not want to put it down. I highly recommend it.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected More 26 Nov 2010
By Toodlem - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you're expecting a day to day chronicle and extreme detail from this book, forget it. The same goes for any real new insights in how John worked or his relationship with his wife. The author goes very easy on anything potentially controversial and the prose consists of paragraphs of recollections 30 years after the events took place. The author himself doesn't add much to the mix other than providing a background and setting. I would have to think that most if not all the people buying this book would know those particulars well in advance.

John lived his life very openly, and 30 years has taught those interested that things weren't as they were made to appear. I realize that John's relationship with his wife was not the focus of this book, but it should have certainly been mentioned more than it was as it still is relevant. I also know for fact that many who were asked for their recollections could have brought much more to light - in how John worked, his plans for the future, and much more. I was disappointed and wouldn't recommend the book as it offers nothing that I didn't know before. Admittedly, I'm a serious rather than casual fan and as such I have a bias and a greater knowledge base than most who would consider a purchase. Based upon what I do know, the author could have provided more insight both through his own prose and from the recollections of the participants.

Having said that, it's still a fairly enjoyable though a very quick read. It's largely the star struck recollections of his band rather than an incisive look into his life at that time and the forces and struggles within him that shaped his work.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK 30 Nov 2010
By Movie Buff - Published on Amazon.com
Great topic. Competently done. Liked "Double Fantasy" on release, though didn't fall in love. As it's described by someone in the book 'a nicely crafted collection by professionals' which does make it a bit less interesting. Check out "I'm losing you" w/ Cheap Trick to see the excitement level raise several notches.
The book also suffers from a bit too much "I was just thrilled to be working with JOHN LENNON" comments. We get it.
I know this sounds harsh. But the book doesn't quite make it. It's OK.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where are the 'Milk & Honey' tracks from same sessions? 22 Mar 2011
By Jeff Walker - Published on Amazon.com
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.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute MUST READ!!!!!! 13 Oct 2010
By Mitchell Axelrod - Published on Amazon.com
With all of the hype surrounding what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday, this book should NOT get lost in the shuffle. As a matter of fact, I would get this book before I go and buy any of the latest bunch of Lennon remasters.

If you ever wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall at the recording sessions for Double Fantasy, wonder no more! This book takes you RIGHT THERE!!!! The author does not waste time speculating about what was happening or giving his own spin on the album. He simply interviewed EVERY participant involved in this LP including all of the musicians and engineers, and producers, etc. He even spoke with the members of Cheap Trick about their recording sessions with John and it is very revealing and my favorite part of the book.

The best part is that you do not have to read the book in linear form. You can skip around from chapter to chapter and not feel like you've missed a thing. To be fair, you SHOULD read the glossary to find out who all of the players are but once you have them down, you are set!

I have seen the PBS American Masters documentary LennoNYC and this book is a terrific complement to the film OR a fantastic stand alone read. I could not put it down. It is a very easy read! I read the whole book in one night. My wife saw my face buried in the book and she said, "you must really like that book because I haven't seen you read that much since I met you."

She was right. I REALLY enjoyed this book. And so will you.
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