The Beatles: Get Back

Callaway Arts & Entertainment. Oct. 2021. 240p. ed. by John Harris. ISBN 9780935112962. $60. MUSIC
Lavishly illustrated with photos and film stills, this ultra-specialized volume from editor Harris (The Last Party) transcribes the studio banter among the Beatles in January 1969 as they created the Let It Be album and the Get Back documentary. The tension among the group is clear during the first sessions at Twickenham Film Studios: Paul McCartney desperately wants the band to perform their new songs on tour; George Harrison adamantly refuses to consider a concert; John Lennon favors a performance and at one point suggests replacing Harrison with guitarist Eric Clapton; and Ringo Starr affably bends to the majority. The Fab Four only agree on the band’s directionless drift after the untimely death of manager Brian Epstein, Harris’s volume posits. Their next sessions at Apple Studios demonstrated the group’s creative process and Lennon’s growing interest in slippery businessman Allen Klein, who (according to this book) eventually tore the Beatles apart. The book’s final section highlights the London rooftop concert where the Beatles unveiled their new compositions.
VERDICT This work illuminates both the camaraderie and growing dissatisfaction among the creative Beatles. Because the book is so in-depth, casual music fans likely won’t pick it up, but Beatlemaniacs will find it a strong companion to the upcoming three-part documentary Get Back by director Peter Jackson, who also contributes the book’s foreword.
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