Let It Be through Abbey Road (1969-1970)
By Jerry Hammack
The release of Mark Lewisohn’s first two major Beatles reference works The Beatles Live and Recording Sessions marked a sea change in the way authors were expected to approach their writing. Research, validation of facts and acknowledgement of source material has prompted many that have followed to dedicate the time necessary to compile reference works that delve in microscopic detail at aspects of The Beatles career. This volume sees the author Jerry Hammack complete a forensic analysis of The Beatles recording career a journey extends from My Bonnie to Abbey Road.
It is quite staggering the level of detail that has been assembled to represent the process and elements that combine to create every song. Every sessions has been broken down, presenting the recordings that took place, where the recordings took place, who contributed and what and the equipment used. No assumptions are made by Hammack, if there can be no verification to a fact then it is clearly stated and as much corrorbarative information is made available as possible fir the reader. For example, if George provides a guitar solo for a session and it is unknown which guitar was used then the guitars which are known to have been available are listed. The July 17th 1969 “Octopus’s Garden” session [6:30 – 11:15pm] sees “Glass of water and straw” listed under instruments, which illustrates just how detailed this reference work is, as it was utilised for under-water sound effects on the recording.
As a straight read, this is something of a dry experience, though that is not the purpose of this book and where it shines is as a source to dip into. As a reference work this is indispensable for scholars of the recording process and for hard-core fans who must know what track the Harmonium was placed as a superimposition [overdub] on the recording of “Here Comes The Sun”. In fact the graphic representations of each recording in terms of what appears on which track, superimpositions made and tape reductions are all clearly represented.
Taking over a decade to compile and write, Jerry Hammack has provided an essential resource, certainly built upon the work of others and, in time, it is likely that other information will come to light that will require amendment to this information by Hammack or others. What we, as fans, should be grateful for is that Hammack has made this time investment and we have The Beatles Recording Reference Manuals to settle any query or debate on anything The Beatles recorded when and how.
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By Gwyn Jenkins.