While it seems that most of this information has been available through other sources, this compendium packs it all together and ties it up with the perfect packaging.
I absolutely loved getting the little tidbits of information in quick, rapid form. This is not necessarily a book to sit and read cover to cover (although I did it that way), but rather it is intended to be used as a reference. Want to know about a particular Beatles song; who wrote it, who played on it, who sang, what instruments did they play, how many takes did it take to get it right, who the engineers were? Look it up here.
To learn that George is the one singing on “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Devil in Her Heart” — I never knew! And while there’s nothing I would specifically do with the information, it’s interesting to learn what instruments are used and when someone changed instruments before the recording of a song.
I very much liked the relative simplicity to the lay-out and design of the book. I felt that I got a good amount of information for every song, and simply and easily. From sticky-note graphics that shared a Beatles tidbit, to the assortment of photos, to the technical information list, this book compiles all the information in a very easy to read format.
Almost daily I learned something from this book that was interesting or exciting enough that I shared it with my family (my sixteen year old son is a tremendous Beatles fan) at the dinner table.
I’m not sure that there’s anything in this book that is new or revelatory, but Margotin and Guesdon have done a remarkable amount of research to pack as much factual information here as possible. The bibliography at the end of the book alone is almost worth the price of admission!
Yes, there are some errors. I’ve read some of the other reviews for this book (and am always amused at how certain some people are about how much they know to be factual … even if they weren’t there) and admit that there are some proofing errors and some date correlation that doesn’t match up. I read an ARC, so I have to trust that some of this gets cleaned up before final print. But larger questions (who wrote which song, which instruments were used, etc) — well… as this book points out, even the individual Beatles themselves don’t always remember accurately how things happened. Paul and John might both claim ‘ownership’ of a particular song — how can we expect that they will remember which guitar was used in the recording? Unless there are photos or written documentation (and even the written documentation is sometimes called in to question) … much is often the result of deduction. Fair enough.
The book is written from the perspective of the British releases of the songs/albums.
I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the Beatles, music history, or music recording studies!
Looking for a good book? All the Songs is an indispensable reference book that every Beatles fan or music historian should have on hand!
* * * * * *
All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release
authors: Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon
publisher: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers
hardcover, 671 pages