Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Philippe Margotin & Jean-Michel Guesdon - All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release (2013)

All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release is a thoroughly entertaining coffee table book that is a chronological reference guide about their recording career. It's a massive volume that is chock full of information that needn't be read as a cohesive whole. The five pound, 653 page, encyclopedia covers all of The Beatles' songs.

The inspiration behind every track is discussed, along with details of how each one was constructed and recorded in the studio, which Beatle played what instrument, and what support outside musicians contributed during their guest appearances. We also learn a lot of background and biographical information because quite often the quartet's personal lives fueled a song's creation. Also included are many photographs that you've probably never seen before.

The book begins in Hamburg where the band, recording under the name "The Beat Brothers" and with Pete Best still on board, served as a backup group for Tony Sheridan in 1961. It continues on, discussing the demos that led producer George Martin and Parlophone to offer The Beatles a one year recording deal. From there the book takes us on a tour of all 213 songs they released during their career, ending in 1970 with "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)," the B-side to "Let It Be."

Author Philippe Margotin is the author of several books about music including biographies on The Rolling Stones, U2, and Radiohead. His co-author, Jean-Michel Guesdon, is both a producer and musician who owns a large collection of information about The Beatles that he amassed over the last thirty years.

The preface is by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Patti Smith, an unlikely Beatles fan if there ever was one but, as we quickly discover, even the "Godmother of Punk" succumbed to the charms of the ultra-famous Liverpudlians.

All the Songs is both very interesting and well researched but it's appeal is strictly for hardcore fans. Casual fans will view it as information overload.

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