Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cat Fight

I've been reading - and enjoying - Geoff Emerick's book "Here There and Everywhere," about his time with The Beatles. It's a really easy and enjoyable book to read, and if you're fascinated by The Beatles I think you'll find it very compelling; it's almost like being there. Even if you're not a huge fan, I think it's is a fairy accessible book.

I did have some qualms. I did wonder about the level of detail; how could anyone remember that much detail forty years later? I guessed that he had kept a diary, and/or the recording tapes from the recording sessions had provided some help in remembering conversations and what was going on at different sessions.

I noticed only a couple of errors, though I should point out that while I'm a big fan and have read lots of "Beatle" books, I don't tend to keep endless amounts of details in my head. One thing I did notice was an error in a description of a difference at the end of Penny Lane. Two versions of Penny Lane were initially released; a version with an extra horn solo at the end that was initially released by Capital in the US and the 'standard' version that most people recognize today. The book confused which version has the extra horn solo. A minor error to be sure, but still a confusing one.

I also noticed that Geoff didn't paint George Harrison in a particularly favorable light; though I didn't feel he tore him down all the time. Maybe I didn't find it objectionable because I've never been a huge George H. fan. Don't get me wrong, George was a great guitarist, and he did write some amazingly good songs (Something, Here Comes The Sun, to name a few) but I don't think he ever rivaled Paul or John, and I don't blame Paul or John for seemingly keeping George back, as some George fans tend to.

Geoff also casts George Martin in a less than favorable light many times; though whether he's totally fair, or whether his perception is a little colored by rivalry, who knows? Everyone's perception of reality is colored by their own bias.

Okay, so that's the end of my review. It appears that others have much stronger problems with the book than I did.

Ken Scott, also an engineer at EMI that worked on some Beatles recording, has some problems with errors in the book.

I was one of the people interviewed for Geoff's book, as were many other former Abbey Road employees. We all came to understand that these interviews were arranged because he had very little recall of those days, and his co-author would use our memories to become Geoff's stories.

Now, after reading his book, I KNOW how little he remembers. It appears we, the interviewees, didn't give enough, because much is clearly fabricated stories, something made up to fill out the book. A good example of this being the detailed recollection of the overdub session he worked on for Misery (Page 59). However, in an interview in 2003, with Ken Michaels, Geoff was quoted as saying "...I was informed the other day, and I couldn’t remember it, that Misery was the first track that I was actually present on." Amongst these stories are many things that could be proven untrue by astute Beatles fans, and things easily shown to be false by those who were there.__

Taken as single points it is easy to say "so what", but when one turns into two turns into one hundred the veracity of everything comes into question. Unlike any other band The Beatles are now part of history and it is my feeling that their history should be told correctly. As part of that history Geoff did AMAZING work recording them, but if one can't remember or take the time to double check the facts, DON'T WRITE A BOOK.

More of the disagreement is covered here: Geoff Emerick & Ken Scott differences of opinion on some events

Now clearly Ken is a friend of George Harrison, and so some of his problem seems to come from that. Also, Geoff was clearly closest to Paul, and I think he makes that clear in the book. I think anyone reading it could adjust for Geoff's obvious bias; he's upfront about it.

So what to believe? I don't know. I still enjoyed the book. It didn't really change my perception of The Beatles in any way, and I felt it added some useful color to the history.

1 comment:

adrian said...

Sounds like a good read. I'll have to borrow it from the library some time.