There are Beatles fans and there are Beatles fans, but there’s a particular kind of Beatles fan that is unique – that is, the recording engineer geek Beatles fan. Many people (almost everybody) loves the songs, but few of us actually worship the way the songs sound. And even fewer of us really dig into how those songs were recorded and why the results come across as so special even today. Fewer still are moved to spend their time, indeed their lives, trying to create those special kinds of sonic footprints for themselves.
But as big of a recording engineer geek Beatles fan as you may have thought you were, Kevin Ryan and Bryan Kehew have completely outdone you. They have spent years of their lives compiling an AMAZINGLY detailed book, appropriately titled “Recording The Beatles.”
I absolutely love this book. It starts off with the background stories of Abbey Road Studios itself, the staff, the culture, the gear (piece by piece, mic by mic), the instruments, etc. Basically every detail you could want to know. You might imagine that such details could come across as dry, but Ryan and Kehew make this book read like a narrative. This book even drew me into the more technical stuff, and I am not very technical.
After all of the background info the book goes into specifics about the process behind every record and breaks it up year by year. The authors were actually granted permission to sift through Abbey Road’s archives, even reading the original take sheets from the sessions, to share details about what instruments were recorded to which tracks and how they were bounced. Interviews with the original staff provided details about mic choice, and mic and instrument placement in the room. Whenever possible they even provide diagrams of the sessions. It’s crazy! I love it!
This book not only answered many lingering questions I’ve had for a long time about those records, but it also peeled away a layer and brought me closer to the music. It gave me fresh ears on this material that has been with me for as long as I can remember. It’s really fun to read about a session, even see a diagram of how the room was laid out and then immerse yourself in the recording. It’s quite transportive.
“Recording The Beatles” is available only at www.recordingthebeatles.com. Visit the website for previews, reviews and more.
by Michael Vecchio