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All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release
on 8 December 2013
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. You could feel their presence." Although their last recording session there was in 1970, their presence, and influence, is still felt - both at Abbey Road and in the world of music. If you are interested in how that music was made, then this is the book for you.