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68 of 78 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars good to know Wikipedia articles can be so useful, 9 Nov 2013
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This review is from: George Harrison: Behind The Locked Door (Hardcover)
Being a huge George Harrison fan, I was so looking forward to reading this. But within five minutes of skimming to a few of my favourite topics/events, I was shocked to see that a huge amount of the details, and even the structure in certain cases, has come straight from Wikipedia's Harrison album and song articles. (I know this because I'm the crazy person who's been expanding Harrison content on that encyclopaedia since January 2012!) It could be a coincidence, I admit. But: a) that would make a *lot* of coincidences, and b) the similarities just jump off the page.

* As an example, take pages 210-11 of this book and compare with two sections in Wikipedia's ALL THINGS MUST PASS album article -- the sections "Release" and "Reception". I believe this author takes the build-up/credibility points from Release; then paraphrases the quote from Robert Rodriguez that sits early in the article's Reception section; then (most obviously) repeats the same line of discussion as the article, through the inclusion of Rolling Stone's critique of the album, followed by the NME's, followed by Richard Williams' in Melody Maker and The Times.
* Loads of other examples: CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH article (under Rehearsals) vs this book's pages 224-25, which repeat details on Nola Studios rehearsals, Harrison's preliminary setlist, and Frampton's role; many other mirror images from Wikipedia's articles (on the concerts, the live album, related songs such as The Day the World Gets 'Round) appear through to p. 235 of the book.
* Or take the chapter covering the LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD album (starting on pages 238-39). It begins with a quote from Nicky Hopkins, followed by comments on Bangladesh activities stalling George's musical career; compare that with album article on Wikipedia, where comments come first then the Hopkins quote. (And much of the author's text on p 239 about the Van Eatons is straight from Wiki's Lon & Derrek Van Eaton article too, in my opinion.)

What especially flags this whole issue to me is that published works from Rock's Backpages and elsewhere -- such as that Disc & Music Echo interview with Hopkins, NME's 1970 album review, Circus Raves' piece on the Dark Horse tour, Bob Woffinden's NME reviews for DARK HORSE and 33 & 1/3, Rolling Stone's 1979 Harrison interview, Gambaccini/Rockweek 1975 EX TEXTURE track-by-track -- they're all sources that I personally have brought to Wikipedia (and paid for in all cases bar Gambaccini) for general, communal reference. More specific to a review of this book, with the majority of the Rock's Backpages articles, I have never seen them quoted or mentioned in any previous book on Harrison (or anyone else) - and I own an awful lot of books on Harrison, and the Beatles generally.

The similarities are not just with Wikipedia's album articles, I stress, but individual song articles also. I feel that this author's taken a large part of the Wikipedia album and song articles and added recent interview text. I realise that anything on a free encyclopaedia is just that -- free -- but what I find appalling is how closely he's aligned his discussions with those free works, as if they're the foundation for his text and in many cases, much more than that.

I don't make these claims lightly. I'm a musician, and any friend of George's is a friend of mine. But I'm also a professional book editor and I know the tricks that, unless they're checked during the editing process, slip through at the expense of readers, who have shelled out for what this book's dust jacket claims is a "rich, insightful account". Not impressed.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Dec 2013 12:12:39 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Dec 2013 12:13:05 GMT
Bad writers borrow, good writers steal. I have bought a
lot of books about the Beatles over the years; I won't be
buying this one. A pity.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2014 17:28:31 GMT
On the plus side, however, it would appear that the book has plenty of good, accurate stuff in it, even if it is culled from your own writings!

Posted on 24 Feb 2014 01:16:20 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Feb 2014 01:20:35 GMT
kimmy says:
Man! Why didn't I read your review before I spent my last $40 ordering it from Canada?I'm so disappointed . I read so many great reviews in magazines and obscure online UK reviews and didn't bother with Amazon which is usually my book bible . I haven't even received it yet and I'm mad already .

Posted on 28 May 2014 18:01:43 BDT
Angel says:
To HaryG :

in your opinion, what is the best book available on George Harrison ?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jun 2014 19:27:34 BDT
HariG says:
Sorry to take so long to reply. I'd have to say Simon Leng's While My Guitar Gently Weeps, because it's the only book that gives us anywhere near a complete picture of George as a musician. Meaning, not just the solo albums, but the many albums Harrison produced or guested on. To me, that's really important, because other biographers miss the point that, just like when he was a Beatle, he really enjoyed (and was so good at) supporting other musicians. Leng interviews some important people also - and always about Harrison's *music*, not gossipy sort of stuff the way this Thomson guy does. You won't find much at all on the spiritual side of Harrison in the Leng book, though - Gary Tillery and Joshua Greene have written some good books covering that aspect. Go for Leng, if you haven't already!

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jun 2014 07:45:21 BDT
Angel says:
Thank you, HariG. I appreciate your review. Yes, I have Leng's book on the list of books to purchase from some time now.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jul 2014 20:03:22 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Jul 2014 20:03:52 BDT
I was given 'behind the locked door' as a present and whilst i don't doubt what you say re wikipedia , i actually think ultimately Mark Lewisohns Beatles trilogy will render pretty much every other Beatles biog redundant if the first tomb is anything to go by....now thats a good book.
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