Top critical review
93 people found this helpful
good to know Wikipedia articles can be so useful
on 9 November 2013
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.