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The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970
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The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970

4.43 of 5 stars 4.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,507 ratings  ·  48 reviews
This is EMI Records' official diary-format history of every Beatles recording session. Over 350 color black & white photographs and illustrations, including rare photos by Linda McCartney and the first facsimile reproductions of Abbey Road recording sheets, tape boxes, album sleeve roughs, memos, contracts, press releases and much more.
Paperback, 204 pages
Published August 30th 2006 by EMI Records (first published 1988)
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Still my favorite Beatles book. If you want the Beatles as a story, then Shout! will do very well. I tend to like the oral history approach--Anthology is great but unwieldy, so I prefer Beatles Off the Record, however unreliable. For pictures and side issues, Mojo magazine did a great Beatles book published by DK. And then there's Yesterday: The Beatles Once Upon a Time, featuring fantastic and fun early pictures of the Beatles and Liverpool by Astrid Kirchherr and Max Scheler.

This book, howeve...more
Nov 04, 2007 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious Beatle fans
Shelves: beatles
This is a day by day diary of what the fabs did in the studio at Abbey Road. I would redirect you to a very different book, "Revoluntion in the Head" by Ian MacDonald - that one is absolutely essential.
Kirk Kiefer
Paul McCartney has referred to this as "The Bible", and that about sums it up. Lewisohn was given every Beatle-maniacs dream job: going through the vast Abbey Road tape library and cataloging every studio recording done by the band.

Taking a day by day approach, Lewisohn details what was record when, who mixed what, how many takes of each song occurred, etc. It's fascinating and indespensible as a reference tool.
Based on the picture of the cover listed here, I think I have a slightly newer or slightly older edition of this book. It doesn't really matter, though. This is an invaluable book for Beatlemaniacs like myself who are also interested in things like which band members sang or played instruments on a certain song; what recording techniques were used (The Beatles practically invented some of the more modern recording techniques and studio practices); or what other musicians they had play with them...more
John M.
Jan 19, 2013 John M. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: musicians, Beatles fans, recording engineers and producers
This book is a must read for die-hard Beatles fans and musicians. To get the best experience, I recommend the following while reading this book:

1. When reading about a particular song, it’s interesting to go back and listen. A lot of the time I found little things that I hadn’t heard before, such as different instruments, the mono/stereo contrasts, and the result of different recording techniques.

2. The Beatles Anthology CD set includes a lot of the early takes and mixes that the author refers t...more

Content, Writing, Presentation: 5 stars.
Subject matter: 10 stars.

To paraphrase a Beatles’ lyric: You think you know their songs, but you haven’t got a clue.

Chris Thomas (producer, filling in for George Martin): “...what [Martin] said to me...‘There will be one Beatle there, fine. Two Beatles, great. Three Beatles, fantastic. But the minute the four of them are there that is when the inexplicable charismatic thing happens, the special magic no one has been able to explain. It will be very friendl...more
An amazing achievement, and a must for serious Beatles fans with a bent toward learning just how each album was made. This is not an easy read; it is arranged, quite logically, in journal fashion, with each day in the studio receiving its own unique entry. A good decision, but it felt like a bit of a slog at times, depending on what was going on. Also, the length of 200+ pages is deceptive; it feels like a much longer.

But I digress - this is an invaluable resource for music historians, which, ha...more
Tom Menner
For Beatles fans I highly recommend this book. While it gets exhaustively tedious (as Lewisohn meticulously documents every Abbey Road recording record he can find), the anecdotes and background information are fascinating. To this day I still get chills reading about the entry of the single day the Beatles recorded the "Please Please Me" album and how they did "Twist and Shout" literally at the end of a long day of recording; the famous version you always hear is a first take, their attempt to...more
I can't believe I've had this book for so long and not read it much until now. Nearly every other page contains some great story or detail that's funny or interesting, with lots of details about the studio experimentation that went on to make the Beatles' recordings sound as they did. Unfortunately it makes me want to spend more time and money acquiring all the non-album takes that I haven't heard but that this book makes out to be quite something to hear as well.

UPDATE: After reading Geoff Emer...more
An absolute must for any serious Beatles fan. Also a must for anyone interested in the creation of recorded music, and how one band changed the methodology for recording within the course of fewer than eight years. Lewisohn takes you behind the scenes and meticulously describes each step of the multitrack recording sessions that created some of the most enduring rock music of the twentieth century. He also tells some wonderful anecdotes along the way.

The primary sources are informative and enter...more
Brian Andersen
I managed to find a used reissue on Amazon for a few dollars but original prints of this book can go for a hundred dollars or more. I finished this book quite some time ago but forgot to mark it Read. If you are a Beatles fan, this book is indispensable to understand how the Beatles worked in the studio and wrote some of the most beloved music of the 20th century in just 8 years of recording. It is a book that I will reference over and over again I am sure.
Kevin A.
More of a reference shelf item than a book to read per se, unless you're an unreconstructed Beatles nut, like me and quite a few other people I know. Twenty-four years on it's easy to overlook what an incredible eye-opener this was, crushing old myths (and rumored outtakes), shedding detailed light on where the Beatles did their best work, and how they went about it. It's still the essential reference for their recording career.
Rob Collier
This is one of the best Beatles books I have ever read (and I have read MANY). If you have never read a book about the Beatles, this would probably NOT be a very good place to start. This is a day by day account of their activities in the recording studio. I have read this book cover to cover, but it is also one I can pick up and read starting anywhere, and it is always intriguing.
Mar 20, 2007 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Beatle fans, recording enthusiasts
Well documented - comprehensive - exhaustive tome that covers everything printed by The Beatles from days alpha to omega. Was pretty much the bible and is now the companion piece (old testament) to Recording The Beatles (I'm shouting out here - please... someone... remember my birthday!)
This book follows me around the house - or vice versa.
Winona Patterson
Exhaustive, encyclopedic... a must-have for any serious Beatles fan. I read it cover-to-cover once, and since then have referred to it many times to answer a question, decide a bet, etc. Lewisohn had unprecedented access to the Beatles' tapes at Abbey Road Studios and catalogs recording studio happenings day-by-day, year-by-year.
Gar Ver
pure inspiration, cover to cover... 65 takes just to record the basic guitar track for "across the universe"... no drums, vocals, bass... the very first layer of the song.... and they settled on take #53... they spent 24 hours straight in the studio once playing catch-up, moments before an album was due!
Dan Miller
Being a retired musician and current garage band practicioner, the book answered a lot of questions I had about how the Beatles shaped each song. The book explained how tedious each recording session was, and how the varied sounds were achieved. Its a great book. If you can find it buy it!
This is definitely one of my "desert island" books. It analyzes — not too technically — every recording session the Beatles ever did at Abbey Road Studios, which accounted for about 99.9% of the band's output. Every read reveals another nuance or another story. Awesome.
This book is a great introduction to the art of recording music. It outlines the day-to-day activities of The Beatles as they recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Definitely a must read for any Beatles fan who has an interest in how the music was made.
Suzanne Hamilton
amazingly well researched and a fascinating insight into the day to day recording lives of the Beatles, their working and personal relation ships and how they recorded their music. A must read for any serious Beatles fan.
the best book i ever read on the beatles, especially as a musician. the day to day details in the studio, with the backdrop of their lives, is really interesting for Beatles and music fans alike.
John Hardin
A detailed account of how The Beatles created their songs and albums. The reader will be amazed at the amount of work that went into their albums, and how they perfected them.
This is the next best thing to being in the studio with is comprehensive and detailed.
Apr 24, 2008 Bruce rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Beatles fanatics and researchers
This book presents the definitive daily recording sessions logbook of the entire Beatles' recorded canon, with minor annotations to round out context. It includes numbers of takes, alternate track names, logs what was layered when, and who was present for each session. This makes for a stale cover-to-cover experience, but then, that's not really the point of a reference book, of which this is an impeccable example. (Don't believe me? Try reading every entry in Grove's Music Dictionary and see wh...more
Scott Golden
It's geek stuff; it's fan-boy stuff . . . it's also utterly fascinating: A detailed account of every recording session The Beatles engaged in during their hit-making career. A must-read for Beatles fans and musicians.
Feb 15, 2008 Frederick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Musicians
Shelves: beatles, music
This is, essentially, a document of who played what on which track and which parts of which songs were recorded when. It is this aspect which makes it the single most informative book ever put out about the Beatles as musicians.
While it is not incredibly easy to follow the fate of any particular song here, reading this from front to back will give you a sense of how the Beatles, their producer George Martin and the engineers at EMI went about their work.

Jul 14, 2007 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Obsessed with the Beatles?
Shelves: non-fiction, music
One of the best Beatles books ever. It goes over every single session that any of them went to in the years they were together. I'm probably one of the few people who actually read the whole thing cover to cover. (Hey, I was young and didn't have much to do...and I was a dork.)
Amazing stuff, but you better be obsessed.
Feb 09, 2009 Bill rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die hard Beatle fans
Shelves: nonfiction
Wonderful book for Beatles obsessives. Notes on every single recording session. I read this before the Anthology series came out, but after I'd heard some bootlegs of tracks that ultimately wound up on the Anthology. Only for die-hard Bealte fans - others will likely be bored stiff.
Rob Hermanowski
Encyclopedic in scope, this detailed accounting of all the Beatles recording sessions is amazing! A must-have for the Beatles fanatic. As an amateur musician who also records, I found this book to be inspiring in the creative process of track recording and mixing as well.
Perhaps it's only musicians such as me who are interested in who played what instrument, how many takes were involved etc. The information was compiled by the studio technicians. There is some repetition, but I liked it; made me feel like a Beatles roadie......mgc
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