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on 30 January 2007
I'm overjoyed to see this book back in print.

If you don't have it and you are a Beatles fan, buy it NOW before you finish reading this review.

It lists every recording session of every song throughout the Beatles recording career with session info, how they got the sounds they did, take information. It's a goldmine of information and the next best thing to having a Beatles album. I bought mine 2nd hand from a previous printing and it's very well thumbed.

Mark Lewisohn is a renowned expert on the Beatles and is very accurate and thorough so you are getting top notch reference material. If you've ever wondered how the Beatles being the best band in the known universe, buy this book.
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on 4 May 2014
Originally published way back in 1988, Mark Lewisohn's THE COMPLETE BEATLES RECORDING SESSIONS makes a thoroughly welcome return to our bookshelves. Having been somewhat superseded by his own THE COMPLETE BEATLES CHRONICLE (a work detailing virtually every working day of The Beatles' career), it is nevertheless very pleasing to see a book which gets to the knub of what The Beatles were all about - the music - being made available once again.

Mark Lewisohn has long since established himself as a prime authority on the Fab Four and his research here has given fans an exhaustive yet thoroughly readable account of the band's time at EMI's Abbey Road studios. The most intricate details of how The Beatles' classic albums were recorded and ultimately put together as finished packages are all laid bare here and it makes for fascinating reading. It also goes to show that, no matter how much musicians - The Beatles included - may have mocked EMI's what was then notorious by-the-book, men-in-white-coats approach to the running of the studios, EMI's stringent policy regarding day-to-day record keeping has been duly vindicated by providing a supremely comprehensive archive of material upon which Lewisohn could base his work. (Incidentally, The Beatles worked at various other London studios during their career together and it's worth noting that other sessions which took place, such as the 'Hey Jude' recordings at Trident and the GET BACK/LET IT BE sessions at Apple, are also detailed herein.)

For this particular fan, THE COMPLETE BEATLES RECORDING SESSIONS is possibly the best Beatles book ever compiled, for it side-steps all of the latter-day bickering, the bruised egos and the business squabbles to instead tell the story of four musicians - not forgetting, of course, producer George Martin - knuckling down to create a body of work which continues to enthrall music-lovers the world over.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 October 2014
This may seem like a reference book and certainly it can be used in that way: to look up a fact about a specific recording. But it is more than that. If read in its entirely, which is what I recommend, it is a history of how the Beatles created a world-changing catalogue of music and, especially, how it progressed so quickly after giving up touring. It was there in the studios that the Beatles changed the course of popular music.

The book is organised as a chronological listing of what happened each day in the Abbey Road studios. That sounds inestimably boring. But it isn't, because what Marl Lewisohn has done is to mix in anecdotes and explanations from the other parties involved. So on 20 August 1968 for example, recording 'Mother Nature's Son': "Paul wanted an open effect on his drums ... and we ended up leaving the studio itself and putting the drums in the corridor, halfway down, with mikes at the far end."

And on 22 August 1968: "The tensions within the Beatles came to a head during this session and Ringo Starr quit the group." There follow explanations as to why he was discontented and what happened in his absence. And then on 5 September, Ringo returned to find his drum kit smothered in flowers. The point is, the background is all there.

So this is more than a list: it is a story of how four people grew to be the most important group of its day and then found that they couldn't keep going for ever. But, as the book concludes, they produced the most memorable and most remarkable song catalogue in the history of popular music.

This book is a history of how they did that and, for those of us who lived through it, it is a fascinating story of how it happened, creative genius, hard work, joy and grief included. Five stars.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 May 2015
I was lucky enough to receive this as a Christmas gift. It's not the kind of volume I'd read from cover to cover in one go, but it's kept me engrossed for over 4 months as I've dipped into it. And it's a book I'll keep forever as a reference and to browse over. I grew up with the Beatles and recall their early UK concerts, before they were well known at venues like The Tower Ballroom in New Brighton. Rory Storm played regularly on Saturday nights on the pier at New Brighton. I bought their singles, saved for their albums and read the Merseybeat music newspaper each week to follow their progress. Despite my interest over 50 years, this book has so many new and fascinating insights.

It's chronological, so easy to find an album or track. The handwritten notes were, for me, a revelation into the whole recording process. And I was particularly struck by their work ethic and dedication during the early sessions. It's difficult to imagine how some of today's pampered, so called stars, would manage; working through lunch breaks, improvising and improving, recording whilst I'll. Listening again to a couple of the early recordings, Lennon is clearly suffering and the details in Mark Lewishon's account explain why.

This volume is so much more than recording sessions; it's filled with photos I've never seen before. Many are natural and capture the essence of the moment, be it happy or tense. The studio notes are like a Vox pop diary of what was going on. The collaboration, dissent, the vying for position and bit by bit, the disillusionment. It's a work of reference and a book to treasure and if you only ever buy one Beatle book, for it's honesty alone, let it be this one.
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on 22 February 2014
This is the sort of book that you'd think only Beatle Nerds would want for their collection. But it is much more than that. It is a good general Beatle biographical book that won't send you off to sleep - well, you can hold it up in bed without getting cramp.

It is incredible to think of the time and effort they put into, in some cases, umpteen takes, overdubbing and speeding up recordings and slowing down recordings.

John and Paul's little forays into the instrument cupboard for temple blocks and other odd orchestral anachronisms shows how much they were keen on exploring sound. The facts about all the recording sessions are in this book, chronologically set out within the contemporaneous context of events affecting the band. So cocooned in their 'prison' of fame were they sometimes, as to be fooled by the likes of "Magic Alex", and so lost were they following the death of Brian Epstein. It's all in this book.

In those days good musicians who contributed significantly to some of the well known numbers did not get credited at the time, simply because of the policies record companies. And many, soon to be important, musical people 'cut their teeth with the Beatles. Alan Parsons joined Abbey Road as a teenage tape recordist in early '69 and pinched a bit of McCartney's musicality, or did it just rub off? Either way it paved the way for later success.

All the related Beatle history is in here and you can't help but be impressed by how professional the band was. Even when they flipped over from public performance to more or less recording artists only, and later when they started their break up, they always knew they were entertainers first - just like any other show biz act... Although they did come up with an enormous number of great songs that will be rediscovered by successive generations.

Here's a test: ask 1,000 people to name as many Rolling Stones, or the Who, or Led Zeppelin songs as they can in one minute. Then ask 1,000 people to come up with as many Beatles songs. Put your results here [.............] and be scientific about it won't you. If you are, your results will (probably!) show why this book is something much more mainstream than and not just your average nerd.
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on 13 May 2013
This is a sensation to read! I have always been a huge fan, albeit lately I have taken a step further and taken a deep dive into the material available. This book contains all recording sessions the group has done and Mark Levinsohn has a good grip on the details. I espescially love reading about the "tape loops" which were made for "Tomorrow never knows", an innovative way of creating the sounds and sound they craved for.

I love listening to Beatles recordings while reading the book. The best book of The Beatles in my opinion!

Regards
Karl
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on 21 February 2014
I thought I knew a lot about the Beatles - Got all their records. Then I got 800 pages of a book last Christmas (2013) - Mark Lewisons granular detailed history which sadly only took me up to 1962. I bought this book to quench my thirst for more and as Marks Vol 2 from 1962 - whenever wouldnt be out for years to come, this book plugged my gap.
It also re-informed in me the understanding that these 4 guys (with George Martin) re-wrote the recording manuals. All the tricks and skills now taken for granted weren't about then. You also notice that the 800 page described the Betales geographical closeness in Liverpool (popping round to each others houses to practice and have chip butties) wasn't possible in this next phase of their lives with Paul being able to 'pad round' from his house round the corner from Abbey Road but John needing to be driven in by chauffer from Weybridge.
Anyway I won't bore you with the detail but the techniques invented and used here are described in forensic detail but it really is a fascinating and enyoable read.
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on 14 June 2004
This excellent guide to the Beatles recording sessions has been out of print for a while. It's a must-have for anyone with an interest in the Beatles, hence the high price for used copies.
The good news is that hamlyn have re-printed the book. Better yet Borders have it in stock at the incredible bargain price of £4.99!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 July 2016
This is a thorough guide to the recording sessions of the Beatles. From the earliest professional recordings - taking place in June 1962 - through to the break-up of the band (following the release of the 'Let It Be' album in May 1970), everything is documented and described in this well-written book. Each recording session is outlined - with details provided as to which songs were sung, which takes were done, and any memorable or notable events that occurred at the time. This is a comprehensive re-telling of the Beatles scheduled in the recording studio.

It's all presented chronologically, and the research undertaken by author Mark Lewisohn is clearly painstaking. It's an incredibly interesting book, exploring the developments that took place as regards the recording of the Beatles music. If you're a fan of the band, this book is an excellent complement to their many albums and singles. I highly recommend it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 July 2016
This is a thorough guide to the recording sessions of the Beatles. From the earliest professional recordings - taking place in June 1962 - through to the break-up of the band (following the release of the 'Let It Be' album in May 1970), everything is documented and described in this well-written book. Each recording session is outlined - with details provided as to which songs were sung, which takes were done, and any memorable or notable events that occurred at the time. This is a comprehensive re-telling of the Beatles scheduled in the recording studio.

It's all presented chronologically, and the research undertaken by author Mark Lewisohn is clearly painstaking. It's an incredibly interesting book, exploring the developments that took place as regards the recording of the Beatles music. If you're a fan of the band, this book is an excellent complement to their many albums and singles. I highly recommend it.
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