Geoff Emerick was actually THERE. We’ve heard a million times about what happened when the Beatles were recording, from the early days until the bitter end. But he was actually there to see and work on a lot of the music. His accounts of the Beatles pushing the limits of the studio again and again offer a world of insights into their music process. He sometimes seems to brag a bit about his record prowess, but then again you can’t argue with the results. His accountings of the Revolver and Sgt Peppers sessions alone make the book worth buying. But there’s much more than that.
Those of us who want to know all the details of this groundbreaking music will find much to like and a myriad of insights into their musical process. The Beatles wouldn’t accept any limitations on the sounds they wanted and they worked with Geoff to figure out a way to do it, time and time again. Many of those techniques, from Automatic Double Tracking to backwards guitar to looping and more are standard today. But it was the Beatles, their main engineer Geoff Emerick, and their producer George Martin who created musical masterpieces that are still brilliant and hugely popular fifty years later.
The downside to the book, is that Geoff was most friendly with Paul and speaks very highly of him. However, he tends to have a very mixed opinion of John, acknowledging his massive talent but often criticizing him and his personality. He never seems to think much of George until near the end of the book when he says George’s talent was finally developed, and while he understands that Ringo was a good drummer he paints him as “blah” as a person for the most part. I had heard these opinions of his before I read the book but I was surprised at how much he favored Paul over the rest of the group.
Aside from a sometimes (not always) one-sided view of the talents of the members of the group, he does have a bit of a tendency to portray himself as a studio wizard. But then again, maybe he was! Whatever. I enjoyed the book and the more you like the Beatles, the more you should read it.
Have you read it? If so (or if not) leave me a comment below!