Treasure trove for Beatles fans

Tony Nielsen





THURSDAY JANUARY 2, 1969 is a date familiar to all hard-core Beatles fans. It was the day on which recording began, at Twickenham Film studios, for Let It Be, which would become the finale of the still popular British hit-makers. What's especially interesting and compelling about the book titled Get Back is that this was the first time in which a film crew was present for all the sessions over the next month as the record took shape. The Beatles had not long before released the highly regarded White Album and their live performances were now a distant memory, ending at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966. In the interim the four Beatles had been doing what they had given up touring for, creating new music in the studio. Now even that seemed to be coming up for debate, as we learn from the day to day conversations which this books chronicles. It's a warts and all record of their creative processes, their relationships, along with fly on the wall recording by Michael Lindsay Hogg on film and by the photography of Linda Eastman (later Paul McCartney's first wife), and Ethan Russell. For me the exciting learnings from the chronicles of the Beatles' conversations is the relationships among the four and the incredible development of the songs that will make up the Let It Be record. Hearing about the spark that initiates a new composition and following its development resulting in a new Beatles classic is a magic process that the studio chit chat provides. Songs include Across the Universe, I Me Mine, The Long and Winding Road, Get Back, and of course Let It Be itself all come together from start to finish. Within a few days from the early January start tension also becomes evident and eventually George Harrison walks out, dissatisfied with what's happening and particularly the studio itself. The other Beatles struggle building on the songs they have started. But two things influence the band positively and herald George's return. Together they agreed to shift recording sessions to the basement of the Apple building in Savile Row. The second is bringing Billy Preston on board. At Abbey Road recordings gather momentum, with Billy Preston making a positive difference to the vibe and with his contribution to individual songs. George is back and enjoying the Apple studio environment. Through the studio conversations we also follow the idea of an outdoor show the Beatles began discussing from the start of the recordings. By late January this had morphed into heading to the rooftop of the Apple building and what will be the Beatles' last performance. What a finale. As well as this splendid and unique book recording their last sessions together, Peter Jackson has created a three-part television special using the filming of Michael Lindsay Hogg. Disney are releasing this production in late November. Then there's the music itself. Both the book Get Back and the multiple Let it Be recordings on CD and vinyl are a treasure trove for Beatles fans.