With a little help from writer Howard Massey, sound engineer Geoff Emerick shares his stories and insights on working with The Beatles on albums such as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” The White Album, “Abbey Road” and others.
Emerick is fascinating recounting how he, producer George Martin and a few others created various sounds and recording techniques often based on vague suggestions by the Beatles.
As Emerick describes certain techniques, fans may stop reading to recall certain measures of Beatles songs that correspond with the author’s descriptions. Fans will be less pleased with Emerick’s descriptions and assessments of certain Beatles.
He is fascinated with John Lennon but, in retrospect, Emerick is none too impressed with him. He admits knowing little of the motivation behind the perpetually quiet Ringo Starr. and many have and will disagree strongly with his critique of George Harrison being an inept lead guitarist who could barely play many of the Lennon-McCartney songs. This book is disparaging of Harrison’s talents.
Emerick is most impressed with Paul McCartney and his leadership abilities, management skills, musical genius, understanding of song composition and recording techniques.
Emerick was often considered a conduit to McCartney in the studio and he has worked on several of McCartney’s solo records as well as the landmark “Band on the Run” with McCartney and Wings.
Still, Emerick may present his impressions of who the Beatles are and were but he does corral all of these insights based on where he knew the Beatles — in the recording studio.
Fans have come to expect a bit of impressionistic coloring of personalities, motives and actions as decades have passed since the Beatles were a band. With Lennon and Harrison gone, speculation about these Beatles’ lives is inevitable.
It’s the questioning of their talents that is the most surprising and irksome things about Emerick’s memoir.
Still, when Emerick shares how certain sounds on individual songs were discovered and created, that is when this book shines.
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