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4.2 out of 5 stars
Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2013
Fifty years after the Beatles took off in the U.K. with the start of a sensational sequence of hits in 1963, recording engineer Ken Scott adds his account of working with the four Mop-tops, as well as a cavalcade of other British stars who produced some of the most viscerally exciting rock of the 70's decade. Sir George Martin and Geoff Emerick, legends of EMI's Abbey Road recording studios, have both produced accounts of their work recording the Beatles and others in the past twenty years. Now Scott offers insights into his work on the Beatles later albums before he moved on to Trident studios to produce further legendary recordings with the likes of David Bowie. Often giving the feeling of offering a fly on the wall view of what it was like to see these brilliant works actually being created, Scott has plenty of anecdotes for those who love all the gossip and insight into these stars' creative processes. Even though he can be frustratingly off-hand or forgetful about some sessions, this is still a tale to fascinate any lover of the Beatles and British 70's rock.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
From his early years working on The Beatles White Album, through to pretty much the present day, Ken Scott has produced and mixed all manner of fine and historic recordings.

Unfortunately his skill with the mixing desk does not really translate to the word processor - this is a fairly dry and surprisingly emotionless review of the recording history he has been a part of, with more than a whiff of Charles Pooter about it at times.

It is not all bad by any manner of means. There's lots of interesting detail of how classic recordings were made, how effects were achieved in the pre-digital studio, and how wonders were worked within the limitations of 4, 8 and 16 track recording. Some of the classic albums he worked on are given more detailed descriptions than others, and more insight than others into the working personalities behind the public figures.

Given the length some people devote to their ordinary and uninteresting childhoods in their autobiographies it was also refreshing to have such tight focus on Scott's professional life, in that he is employed at Abbey Road by the end of Chapter One, and his wife only appears as a character when relevant to recordings (usually in terms of which famous musician she managed to upset next, so it's little surprise when the biggest personal section of the whole book is devoted to his eventual divorce).

However I'm sure I can't be the only reader surprised to find how quickly his work with the likes of Bowie and Elton John was dispatched, whilst the entire history of the comparatively obscure band 'Missing Persons' is detailed in quite frankly over-exhaustive detail. Also given that the book is trailed on ' oh-so-honest tales', it's a little disappointing when some of that honesty turns out to be 'I don't remember too much detail of such-and-such an incident'.

One further star has been deducted for the layout of the Kindle edition, which renders the technical details (presumably side-bars in the printed volume) as text written in a default font so small it might be part of an unscrupulous recording contract.

A decent read, but could have been better.
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on 13 April 2014
I bought this book from Amazon after a friend, who is also a musician, recommended it to me.

I'm a music lover, particularly of rock and fusion bands from the late 60s and 70s, so of course this book is just right for me. From Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust is a great selling title, but perhaps not the best to describe the contents of the book. The title makes me think of Beatles (even though Ken didn't work on the Abbey Road album and the title should thus refer to the studios) and David Bowie, and they were both acts that played pop and rock at a similarish point in time, at least concerning the works mentioned in the book. But Ken also worked with acts like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Stanley Clarke, Happy the Man, Devo and Duran Duran, so it really spans a lot of work by a lot of bands and artists from a variety of genres.

I'm the sort of person who loves musical trivia and music related anecdotes, even when they're not about artists that I like. While I may forget what I had for lunch yesterday, trivia like what was the biggest selling hit single of 1985 will stick in my mind or that story about when Zappa had that keyboardist on audition try and play the black page with his hands crossed... Needless to say, Ken's book is a treasure trove brimming with these kind of stories, about Jeff Beck, George Harrison, David Bowie, Billy Cobham, John McLaughlin and so many more.

I also appreciate the glance behind the curtain of how things are in the music industry. There are some recurring themes in the book, like inflated egos or record companies getting in the way of making what could have been great albums. Musicians and those working in the music industry are likely to find this book enjoyable - and perhaps even educational at times.

Thanks to Ken Scott and Bobby Owsinski for writing the book. Warmly recommended!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2012
It is a fascinating modern happening to read the words of people who were living through history in the making though they didn't know it at the time.There have been a few long awaited biogs for me recently and along with Pete Townshend's, Keith Richards' and Norman Smith's, this was right up there.
And it did not disappoint, not at all. Literally from page one I was engrossed as Ken Scott describes how he came to be interested in sound recording, ended up working at EMI, came up through the ranks and engineered on sessions by the Beatles. What's far more fascinating, however, are his other stories and believe me, there are plenty. I was fascinated just how many records I have that he was the engineer on that I hadn't known.
His work on the Bowie albums is covered in detail, especially LPs like "Hunky dory" and the not so well known ones.
He includes many technical and equipment details too, so if, like me, you're a lover of this kind of stuff, then you hopefully, won't be disappointed.
He also wisely steers clear of the controversy that arose when Geoff Emerick's book "Here, there and everywhere" {in itself a really good, if sometimes somewhat fanciful, read} came out. He doesn't mention it at all. Smart man.
All in all, this is most definitely a book worth reading and hanging onto. One day it will sell for ridiculous amounts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2014
Loved this book. In sharp contrast to Geoff Emerick's, Ken Scott's book doesn't rely upon supposed conversations from 30+ years ago. The tone here is light and very self-effacing, Scott seems like a very nice chap! He's seems to be well-liked by all he's worked with - and what a list! Beatles, Bowie, Elton...........
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on 5 December 2014
Ken Scott can't write for toffee. He more or less admits it. Yet he teams up here with another published ghost whose style has all the sophistication and finesse of a high school blogger. Go figure, as he is wont to exclaim.

Despite Scott's having been intimately involved in the making of so much classic music, he is the Mr Pooter of pop. His observations are banal and nondescript. He has no opinion on the artistic merits of his life's work. And he can't remember being around for most of it. His idea of an recording session anecdote is to list the technical specifications of the microphone set up.

Don't waste your money on this. Seek out Tony Visconti's much more interesting, and much better written, memoir.
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on 2 February 2015
Whilst some of the stories were potentially interesting and the studio information was, well, informative for musicians and studio techs alike this book is written in such a monotone voice as to make something that could've been thrilling quite mundane. And I'm sure it never was actually being there. Ken Scott has undoubtedly been involved in the recording of some very great records but this book does defeat the argument that we all have a good book in us.
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on 12 June 2013
I really loved this reading!!!
So much under the hood for EMI Studios, Beatles, D. Bowie and more.
I found great value in the technical notes as well.
The writing was very nice and even it's not linear in time, it makes great sense!
Highly recommended for sound engineers, producers and plain music lovers as well.
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on 18 May 2014
Finally somebody who doesn't remember every single recording session, impossible task I know from my own experience. Therefore this book really tells the truth, a true and honest picture of Ken Scotts whereabouts in the studio under a number of decades. Good mixture of tech stuff and person to person encounters.
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on 3 November 2014
I've chosen this book as my holiday reading, and it provided an amazing trip through music history by a perspective of one of the greatest engineers. From great facts about my favourites artists to recording technical details, Ken definitely provided me an extra trip during my holiday!
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